Brazilian students are bringing home two gold medals, one silver and one bronze from the 15th Mathematical Olympiad of the Southern Cone. The contest took place in the city of Atlántida, 42km from Montevideo, Uruguay.
“The outcome shows how solid our training has been over the last years. Even in competitions in which our students are younger, our performance has been really special,” says the leader of the Brazilian team, Régis Prado Barbosa. “Brazil’s work has been increasingly recognized.”
This was Barbosa’s debut as leading teacher. He is 24 and has taken part in the tournament ever since he was a child. He also won a silver medal, in 2006. It was the competitions that encouraged him to become a teacher and help new competitors prepare, he says.
The Mathematical Olympiad of the Southern Cone is a tournament that takes place every year since 1988. This year, the event welcomed 32 students from eight countries.
In order to participate, Brazilian students must qualify in the yearly Brazilian Mathematical Olympiad (OBM), held in public and private schools all over the country. The winning students go through tough series of evaluations that take into account not only the students’ performances in the tournament, but also results from exams and exercises done over the course of six months.
The opportunity to go to the Olympiad is given to the four highest-scoring students that fulfill the requirements set forth by the international tournament.
The gold medals were brought home by students Pedro Henrique Sacramento de Oliveira, 15, from Vinhedo (São Paulo) and Gabriel Toneatti Vercelli, 16, from Osasco (São Paulo). João César Campos Vargas, 16, from Passa Tempo (Minas Gerais) and Andrey Jhen Shan Chen, 14, from Campinas (São Paulo) received the silver and the bronze medals, respectively.
Gabriel is a seasoned veteran. He also ranked first in the Mathematical Olympiad of the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries, in Mozambique, and has taken part in competitions since he was in the fifth grade.
“I started to participate because of math, because I really liked mathematics and thought math classes at school were too easy. I wanted to learn a bit more,” he says.
Today, he shares the knowledge he has acquired with his fellow students through a project entitled “Voa! – Vontade Olímpica de Aprender” (“Fly! – The Olympic Urge to Learn”, in a literal English translation) and teaches math to students from public schools.
Now, shortly after coming back to Brazil from Uruguay, he says the experience was unforgettable. Our hotel was right opposite the sea. We went to the beach every day.”