Southern Arkansas University proudly hosted six teams of STEM majors on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2019, in Challenge Saturday. Students from Cameroon, India, Czech Republic and Nigeria, as well as from across the United States participated. More than 600 students worked on teams of three at their home school for over a week on one of three math scenarios.

SAU’s undergraduates from a variety of STEM majors converged on the SAU Science Building for this all-day event, sharing their results and getting valuable feedback from faculty judges. To round off the day, there were also faculty development workshops and a fun Math Bowl.

“For Challenge Saturday, our SAU students successfully addressed a problem using the power and elegance of mathematics, sharing it with others in presentations,” said Dr. Abdel Bachri, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. This year’s challenges involved chemical signals from wasps and butterflies which relate to reproduction and egg deposits; the phenomenon of hipsters in how people tend to group themselves, and the movement of objects on small microgravity environments such as asteroids.

“I thank Dr. Schrader and the faculty mentors who came together to make this event possible,” said Bachri. “Math is the language of the universe. Laws of nature are often expressed in terms of differential equations. They can be used in a wide variety of disciplines to make predictions, from health to economics.”

“Everyone can benefit from a modeling challenge such as this one. I was very impressed by the students’ presentations, and every team presented a unique mathematical approach to model the problem,” he said.

The event, SCUDEM IV 2019 (SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations), was sponsored by SIMIODE – Systemic Initiative for Modeling investigations and Opportunities with Differential Equations, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit organization, funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Anyone interested in modeling with mathematics – specifically with the STEM pivotal material known as differential equations – can join SIMIODE free at The day’s events were coordinated by Dr. Paul Schrader of SAU’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department along with many SAU faculty, staff, and student volunteers.

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