Timelines and tasks
A routine should be rehearsed in practice situations using models obtained from other sources well before the challenge problem itself is undertaken.
Team members should understand the routine so that it can be put into action automatically over the days of the challenge.
Plan an overall approach and timeline. Make it flexible within limits.
Take note of the total time available for the project. For the IM2C Australian competition, this is a consecutive five-day period.
Schedule meeting times to share and review progress. It may not be feasible to schedule too far in advance: students typically schedule meetings at unusual times outside school hours to suit individual availability.
Team members should work together for at least the first and final days of the challenge period, because of the importance of the initial planning and the final report writing.
Agree on a time by which all raw modelling activity needs to be completed.
Times are nearly always underestimated, so set an early deadline for the first tasks.
Plan sufficient time for report writing, which is likely to take at least a day.
Meet or video conference once every day to discuss progress and next steps.
Maintain a record of all sources, websites and pieces of mathematics referred to as work progresses. Be careful and systematic, and update continually, so information can be easily retrieved if required in the final report.
Back up documentation and drafts frequently.
Don’t throw anything away, even apparently redundant copies of electronic files – you never know when something might come in handy. It is always possible that your latest good idea may not be as good as something that you might have discarded earlier.
Order of tasks
To begin, the team should come to a mutual understanding of meaning of the first mathematical question to be addressed.
Decide and allocate initial internet searches to be undertaken, but allow time for additional searches as you get deeper into the problem and the report.
Consider relevant technology. Search online for specific programs, and for data to support that provided in the problem statement.
Assign sub-tasks that can be carried out in parallel by different team members, and ensure all individual work is brought together for critique and integration.
Midway through the challenge period, the team should begin to collate members’ work, draft a summary and outline the maths used.
Begin to consider the advice the team will give in response to the challenge question being posed.
Everyone in a team should be responsible for critically assessing what is written as it is written.
Errors and approaches need to be discussed. Were the assumptions that were made useful or too strong? Were all the assumptions used? Were there implicit assumptions that should be stated explicitly? Could the problem be approached in a different way? Are more data needed?
Collect all references together as a list and think about the need for one or more appendices.
Identify what work still needs to be done to answer the challenge problem.
At least one full day should be devoted to report writing.