In Brazil, Biennium activities make Mathematics popular
* The text below was part of the application dossier from Brazil to Group 5, the elite of World Mathematics, International Mathematical Union
While popularization had traditionally been been largely neglected in the Brazilian scientific scenario, and even more so for mathematics, the situation has improved in more recent years, as some of the funding agencies have started assigning value to outreach initiatives, causing funding for science museums and fairs to be available on a more regular basis.
The circumstance that Brazil is hosting two major events, the 2017 International Mathematical Olympiad and the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians, offered a historical opportunity to bring math popularization to the forefront, and the mathematical community has been taking advantage of this.
At the proposal of IMPA, the Brazilian national parliament enacted a formal proclamation of the years 2017 and 2018 as the Biennium of Mathematics in Brazil, thus opening the way for a broad and ambitious series of activities aiming at disseminating and popularizing mathematics in the whole society, children and their families, students and their teachers.
The Math Festival, held for the first time in Rio de Janeiro in April 2017, fully embodied these goals. Offering a wide range of activities, from lectures and exhibits to workshops and games, designed for all audiences, the Festival attracted more than 18,000 visitors in four days, and was considered a huge success.
In July 2017, Rio de Janeiro welcomed the 112 delegations taking part in the 2017 International Mathematical Olympiad. The event also attracted quite a lot of attention from all major vehicles in the Brazilian press, including prime time television news.
Also at the initiative of IMPA, the Ministry of Science and Technology has agreed to devote the 2017 National Science and Technology Week to the theme “Math is everywhere”. As the Week mobilizes the whole national system of higher education and research, this will surely be yet another highlight of the Biennium of Mathematics.
In addition to the many activities organized by IMPA and the SBM, the Biennium´s website records an intense program of initiatives by schools, universities, science museums and other institutions across the Brazilian territory, to disseminate mathematics in the society, with an emphasis on children.
Last but not least, the country is gearing up for the ICM 2018, the first ever International Congress of Mathematicians to be held in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as for the 2018 IMU General Assembly. Preparations are well under way: venues have already been booked, detailed plans are being set, including the scientific program, the Open Arms funding program for mathematicians from the developing world, the submission of communications proposals, and the recruitment of volunteers.