SCUDEM V 2020 - SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations Modeling

SCUDEM V 2020 - Mission Completed

**FLASH** All 27 Outstanding Award team videos available at SIMIODE YouTube site . **FLASH**

Congratulations for team success in SCUDEM V 2020. This year’s SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations Modeling (SCUDEM) saw 130 teams of three students each complete a ten-minute video on one of three problems.

There were 180 teams registered so we reach out to the 50 teams who did not submit a video and wish them well in these difficult times. We understand the difficulties in working at a distance and producing a video.

There were 95 faculty and industry coaches, 502 students, and 380 judges from around the world engaged in SCUDEM V 2020 and we thank all for their participation.

Of the 130 teams who submitted a video 27 received an Outstanding Award, 44 received a Meritorious Award, and 59 received a Successful Award.

The break down on problems is as follows:

A (42) Outstanding-4, Meritorious-21, Successful-17

B (53) Outstanding-11, Meritorious-20, Successful-22

C (35) Outstanding-12, Meritorious-3, Successful-20

The average score on a 1 = Low to 5 = High scale was 3.52 with standard deviation of 0.68. The highest score was 4.875. On average, each team received a score and constructive comments from 8 judges. Some received more and some received less, because we asked judges to evaluate three videos and some judges viewed more than three of their own choice and some judges did not respond.

We will be inviting the Outstanding Award winning teams to submit their video for posting at the SIMIODE YouTube site. SIMIODE does not publish award levels of teams for SCUDEM, rather we share this information on award level with each team to use as they wish. We provide Press Release forms in the various groups: Students, Coaches, and Judges, for use in spreading the word about participation, perhaps through public information offices or department auspices.

No matter what award level a team received, know that all grew in their modeling and communication skills by tackling their chosen problem and we say, “Congratulations!"

Join us next year in fall 2021 for SCUDEM VI 2021.

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See Complete Problem Statements of the three SCUDEM V 2020 problems. Judging was completed on 7 December 2020, whereupon awards were made shortly thereafter. All Outstanding Team videos are viewable at SIMIODE's YouTube Channel.

Due  to the current health crisis we are offering SCUDEM this fall in a virtual approach. We all valued the local site version in the past in which colleagues can meet and share personal experiences and students can interact with fellow students from other schools. We will consider both virtual and in person approach for SCUDEM VI 2021.

Grow your understanding of differential equations modeling by participating in SCUDEM - SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations Modeling. Gather your local team of three students together or team up with students from around the world and tackle a real modeling challenge!

SCUDEM V 2020 is an opportunity for students, in high school or undergraduate school, to engage in a differential equations modeling experience. Each team will have three weeks to work through one of three given real-world modeling problems. 

Teams can be from one school or SIMIODE will form teams from individual student and coach registrations from around the world. Imagine, a coach from Kyoto JAPAN with students from Lagos NIGERIA, Seattle WA USA, and Brno CZECH REPUBLIC working together and then being professional and personal friends for life!

Teams will produce a 10-minute video presentation of their model which they will upload in Unlisted mode to YouTube for judging. Although participation from all countries is welcome the language of SCUDEM is English.

See Modeling Guide for Student and Coach for practical advice on participation in SCUDEM.


  1. Offer students modeling opportunities with differential equations and permit focus on modeling and mathematics.
  2. Foster the value and applicability of differential equations.
  3. Develop visual and verbal communication skills.
  4. Connect faculty colleagues who teach differential equations.

SCUDEM Offerings:

  • Create a supportive environment for modeling that builds camaraderie for students and faculty through teamwork.
  • Work with team mates from around the world.
  • Give students feedback through experiencing other group presentations, judges’ feedback, and final awards.
  • Offer faculty networking and activities for modeling in teaching.
  • Recognize creativity and communication efforts of students.
  • Have an enjoyable experience for faculty and students.

Direct all inquiries to .

SCUDEM V 2020 Challenge Period begins on 23 October 2020 and culminates on Challenge Saturday 14 November 2020. Beginning Midnight EDT, Friday 23 October 2020, teams can access modeling scenarios involving differential equations in – physics/engineering, chemistry/life sciences, or social sciences/humanities. Teams select one problem and develop modeling approaches and solutions with an understanding of limitations to their model. The scenarios are designed so that every team can succeed in modeling, thus building skills and confidence in differential equations.

Each team prepares a 10-minute video presentation on their work and uploads their team video in Unlisted mode to YouTube by Midnight 14 November 2020. Each team will email SCUDEM the URL link to their presentation to Judges will begin judging, scoring, and rendering constructive feedback on submissions with final decisions and awards determined by the Closing Ceremony on 5 December 2020. All team video submissions will be made available for public viewing and participation by student implies agreement in that principle.

SIMIODE will provide all resources and opportunities for collaboration in its Community of Practice with all SIMIODE resources open at no cost for participants. SIMIODE is an Open Education Resource endeavor. 

Membership in SIMIODE and SCUDEM V 2020 Registration are required for participation in SCUDEM V 2020 for both students and faculty.  Registration in SIMIODE is FREE at SIMIODE Registration.

All teams must have a faculty coach mentor.

Benefits for students

For students there is the camaraderie of the three-person team and the opportunity to meet with students from other schools who are passionate about applying mathematics and share the same SCUDEM experience. For students of mathematics, to be honored as a team effort is very motivating. Students who compete in the COMAP's MCM/ICM and SCUDEM say that the time spent modeling in teams was the best undergraduate mathematics experience they have had and can add this experience to their CV. SCUDEM is an attractive experience for graduate schools or community/academic involvement discussion with employers. The students gather insight to different applications of differential equations. The SCUDEM experience develops work outside the classroom similar to what higher level research is like or how to work in industry.

Helpful Comments from SCUDEM Problem Author

We have posted complete problem statements and student submissions as Challenge Results from all the previous SCUDEM events, along with Commentary and Overview on the Problems from the problem author, Dr. Kelly Black, Department of Mathematics, University of Georgia, Athens GA USA.

These are very worthwhile reads, highlighting good practices in modeling and communicating results. These materials can be found under Challenge Results for each year at the SCUDEM main web page.

Direct all inquiries to .

Role of the Coach

Coaching a SCUDEM experience can change the perspective on mathematics for any team of students from a classroom environment to a real-world application. SCUDEM engagement demonstrates the usefulness of differential equations in modern problem solving. The mentorship of extracurricular mathematical education can develop students beyond usual differential equations education thresholds. See the  teacher perspective from Dr. Matthew Dobson, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst MA USA.

The role of the coach for each team is to prepare the team members for participation in SCUDEM V 2020, and NOT to assist in any way with modeling efforts during the Challenge Period, 23 October-14 November 2020.  Indeed, both coaches and team members will be asked to abide by a SCUDEM Integrity Statement which reads, “I hereby state that during the challenge period, 23 October  - 14 November 2020, I have not received any animate assistance with regard to the SCUDEM problems as a student competitor. Neither have I given any assistance to any member of a team as a coach.”

Registration for Coaches

Faculty can register with an assembled team of their choice or coach students from other schools that SIMIODE will assign the team members, pairing up coaches with students. Additional faculty, who are not coaching a team, are encouraged to join judging activities. Faculty coaches and judges may make a financial contribution in support of SCUDEM at a level with which they are comfortable. This is in addition to their much-appreciated time contribution.

Membership in SIMIODE and SCUDEM V 2020 Registration are required for participation in SCUDEM V 2020 for both students, faculty, and judges.  Registration in SIMIODE is FREE at SIMIODE Registration.

Specifically, before 23 October 2020, but not during the Challenge Period, coaches can and should organize the team; meet with team members to discuss technical materials; go over past SCUDEM  modeling problems and student submissions; discuss with team members the comments from the problem poser from past SCUDEM events on what good modeling should be; help students develop good presentation skills and concise writing and communication efforts; and go over the requirements for SCUDEM V 2020. The coach should make sure students understand what is expected of them in terms of delivering a 10-minute video presentation to be uploaded in Unlisted mode to YouTube by Midnight EDT on Challenge Saturday 14 November 2020. 

Before the challenge begins, coaches should stress the need for the team to settle on one of the three problems offered (and not carry forth with several problems’ analyses) in the first day or so and move on to success with their model building on that one selected problem. Furthermore, coaches should stress that there is no one right answer.  SCUDEM is about the modeling process as applied to the problem of choice. Formulating and communicating efforts is of utmost importance.

Coaches need to emphasize that ALL team members must participate in all aspects of SCUDEM, modeling, writing, and presentation.

Coaches may interact with team members during the challenge period, but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should there be technical discussions about modeling efforts on their problem. Failure to abide by the SCUDEM integrity statement will result in a disqualification of the students' submission. For students, this is THEIR chance to develop and grow. Coaches, let students bloom.

Here are some things for coaches to consider.

  1. Help form a team through class, Math Club, word of mouth, posting a flyer, etc.
  2. In a team, if possible, seek diversity of skills, e.g., not all programmers, not all “dreamers” – a blend.
  3. Share some of your readings concerning modeling principles and good approaches.
  4. Meet with your team to go over exactly what SCUDEM V 2020 is all about, e.g., timeline, requirements, expectations. Involve past SCUDEM student participants.
  5. Talk about how to select which problem to do.
  6. Go over past SCUDEM problems and student submissions. Discuss how to attack the model first in practice sessions and then examine other students’ submissions.
  7. The three SCUDEM problems are in (i) physical sciences or engineering, (ii) life sciences or chemistry, and (iii) social sciences.  Make sure students know there could be modeling and learning experiences in SCUDEM outside their area of study.
  8. Read and discuss instructive essays by the problem poser for past SCUDEM events.
  9. Stress general modeling strategies; go over a complete modeling cycle from assumptions to model building to solutions and interpretations to parameter estimations or data fitting to revisiting reality to communicating final results in video presentation; point out differential equations solution methods; make sure student accounts and access to computation and production tools are in order; visit with them informally during the week to see if they are making progress – ask about their pace, their attention to school work and personal life(!) as well as time on task for SCUDEM.
  10. Visit with your team informally during the Challenge Period to see if they are making progress. Ask about their pace, their attention to schoolwork and personal life(!), as well as time on task for SCUDEM.
  11. Meet with students occasionally during the challenge period to be sure they are aware of the rules and expectations.
  12. Email students to give support, send them some funny math stuff for chuckles.
  13. Ascertain if they are getting rest and maintaining a rich student life.
  14. DO NOT discuss the model itself or students’ strategies during period 23 October - 14 November 2020.


  1. Offer students modeling opportunities with differential equations and permit focus on modeling and mathematics.
  2. Foster the value and applicability of differential equations.
  3. Develop visual and verbal communication skills.
  4. Connect faculty colleagues who teach differential equations.

SCUDEM Offerings:

  • Create a supportive environment for modeling that builds camaraderie for students and faculty through teamwork.
  • Give students feedback on their work through seeing other group presentations, receiving feedback from judges, and receiving final awards.
  • Offer faculty networking and development of activities for modeling in teaching.
  • Recognize creative skills and communication efforts of students.
  • Have an enjoyable experience for faculty and students.

Benefits for faculty

Faculty make contacts with others who are interested in modeling in their coursework. Contacts can function and last beyond SCUDEM. Faculty come away from discussions refreshed with new ideas from other faculty, proud of what their students can accomplish, and in touch with new professional friendships. Faculty can consider hosting a SCUDEM challenge at your university if and when SCUDEM returns to a site-based challenge. If so, your university can receive site-hosting benefits. 

Article of interest relative to SCUDEM demonstrating participation increases student self-efficacy in modeling with mathematics.

Czocher, J., K. Melhuish and S. S. Kandasamy. 2019. Building mathematics self-efficacy of STEM undergraduates through mathematical modelling.  International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. See Blog Entry about this work and source URL.

Direct all inquiries to .

The essence of SCUDEM is the modeling and team experience for each student and the professional networking of students and faculty.

Meaningful, constructive, and timely feedback for students helps them grow intellectually, improves modeling and mathematical skills, as well as self-efficacy in modeling. Meaningful feedback on their submission aids them in their reflection on the SCUDEM experience.

Student team submissions will be in English and judge comments will also be in English.

SCUDEM needs volunteer faculty judges for just a one-hour time commitment during the period 15 November – 4 December 2020. Each judge will be assigned three 10 minute team videos to view as well as an easy, but powerful scoring rubric and opportunity to comment on the presentation. The entire judging time commitment should be no more than one hour and will be very much appreciated by student beneficiaries as well as SCUDEM operations.

Membership in SIMIODE and SCUDEM V 2020 Judges Registration are both required for participation in SCUDEM V 2020 judges.  Registration in SIMIODE is FREE at SIMIODE Registration.

We thank you for your willingness to engage on behalf of students around the world. Faculty who have judged in SCUDEM have found the experience EXTREMELY rewarding and have had their faith enhanced in our mathematical future from reading the work of these teams.

Direct all inquiries to .


  1. SCUDEM is for 3 member teams of students at the high school or undergraduate level from same or different schools.
  2. Formal registration begins 1 September 2020 and closes 15 October 2020 SIMIODE and SCUDEM.
  3. Challenge begins one minute after Midnight EDT Friday 23 October 2020, with posting of three problems for teams and closes with submission of presentation video for posting in Unlisted mode at YouTube on Challenge Saturday, Midnight EDT 14 November 2020.
  4. Teams and coaches register (1 September - 15 October 2020) at SIMIODE and SCUDEM.  
  5. At Noon EDT Saturday 24 October 2020, SIMIODE will conduct a Live Stream YouTube Video Opening Ceremony.   *** We decided NOT to do this so student could dive in to problems. ***
  6. During the period of 23 October 2020, through Challenge Saturday 14 November 2020, teams work on their problem at their home institution, producing a 10-minute video presentation for posting in Unlisted mode on YouTube.
  7. NO animate assistance to the team is permitted on the problem effort.
  8. During the period 15 November - 30 November 2020 judges will review team video presentations, render scores, and comments with SIMIODE assigning awards to teams: Outstanding, Meritorious, and Successful.
  9. Team members and coaches will be recognized by certificates in early December 2020.
  10. At Noon EDT Saturday 5 December 2020, SIMIODE will conduct a Live Stream YouTube Video Closing Ceremony.


SCUDEM V 2020 Registration formally opens 1 September 2020 and runs through October 15, 2020. Teams are encouraged to begin meeting with coaches or use the SIMIODE webpage as a resource for past modeling scenarios. This is a chance to work with colleagues from around the globe and make new friends that could develop future opportunities! Team mentoring and coaching can begin once teams of students and coaches are assembled.

In support of SCUDEM and SIMIODE we ask each team to contribute a registration fee of $10US/student or $30US/team at the time of registration through SIMIODE's PayPal SCUDEM registration portal using a credit card. Individual student registration is $10US/student. Members in developing countries will not need to pay a registration fee as a courtesy to colleagues.

Direct all inquiries to .