Budding Brazilian mathematicians attend ICM 2018

Hundreds of teenagers from all over Brazil attended the opening ceremony of ICM 2018 this morning in Riocentro. The youngsters were invited to attend the prestigious event, as they have all shown high aptitudes in the OBMEP maths test, created by IMPA in 2005.

“This is a very special group of people we have with us today,” said Marcelo Viana, Chairman of the Rio ICM 2018 Organizing Committee, at the ceremony, during which Field’s medals were awarded to four exceptional mathematicians. “I don’t think they will ever forget this experience.”

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OBMEP (Brazilian Mathematical Olympiad of Public Schools) is the largest school competition in the world, and it tests the math proficiency of around 18 million Brazilian public school children in 2017.   Around one million proceed to a second round, and following this 500 gold medals, 1,500 silver, and 4,500 bronze medals are awarded to the successful students. Honorable mentions are given to around 46,000 additional youngsters. Gold medalists will receive their award at a special ceremony at ICM 2018 tomorrow.

The competition aims to identify talented young students, and incentivizes their journey into math by offering specialist math classes in local universities, accompanied by travel bursaries to help with logistics.   Teaching methodologies used are different from those used in regular schools, using traditional mathematical theories, and more logic and common sense approaches.

Thirteen year old Matheus Regasi studies at the Joao XXIII municipal school in the Volta Redonda suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Last year, he won his second OBMEP medal in 2017, and he is currently completing PIC (Scientific Initiation Program) online. He loves the way he studies maths now, and hopes to have a career in math or computer science when he grows up. “It’s different, much clearer. They make it much easier to understand, they use better ways to explain things. They make learning fun.”

Eveline Danke (13) travelled from Joinville in the southern state of Santa Catarina to attend today’s event.  She won a gold medal in the competition last year, and will receive her medal tomorrow. It was her first time to compete, but she has always loved math. She said she doesn’t have time to attend additional maths classes, but said the experience of winning was “inspiring”.