LINCOLNSHIRE (CBS) – Math students from a north suburban high school are taking their prodigious skills to a national competition, crunching numbers to solve a real world problem.

The group from Stevenson High School will be defending their title in the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge. Nearly 1,000 teams compete in regional competitions and only six make it to the finals in New York, CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports.

Here is how it works: The teams of five are locked in a room for 14 hours and use high level math to come up with a solution to the hunger and food waste problem in the United States.

“Marathon is the perfect word because it’s 14 consecutive hours of work, which is almost unfathomable,” said coach Paul Kim

The formulas they use are complex.

“We work together has a team and I like the collaborative nature of the competition,” said senior Deepak Moparthi.

“It’s kind of like a puzzle and there are a bunch of different theorems and formulas that you have to put together,” said senior Haoyang Yu

Last year, the group of five shared $20,000 in scholarship money, and they could get that much again if they repeat as champions.

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