Yes, Brazil won gold at the Olympics. Not in one that is being followed by millions of people around the world, but in a competition that, while attracting much less attention, is also of great importance. It is the International Physics Olympiad that is considered the mother of all scientific competitions.
The person who practically climbed the podium was Caio Augusto Siqueira, 17, a young talent who belatedly turned to physics. In fact, being a child more focused on the exact sciences, he was torn between the gold-winning subject and mathematics.
“I realized that with physics I could not only understand a little more, but also feel more joy. You know when you’re studying something and you don’t understand it, it’s just fun trying to understand what’s going on? I felt that in physics, ”he explains.
Born in Ribeirão Preto (SP) and living in Santo André (ABC São Paulo), Caio wanted to attend high school at ColégioObject, which was responsible for two more Brazilian gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 Olympic Games.
In the first year the young man won gold at the Junior International Science Olympiad. “In the scientific Olympic community he was our Italo Ferreira,” says Ronaldo Fogo, professor-advisor at the specialty courses in the physics of the goal, excitedly and compares Caio with the surfer who was on the podium this Tuesday (27).
The student used his ease in the subject to devote himself exclusively to it by studying university books and other languages. Before the pandemic, it was common to find him at school late into the night studying works in English, Russian, and French.
At home, due to the pandemic, Caio had to adjust his learning method, which sometimes reached 16 hours a day, and started using WhatsApp to teach. “You tried a lot [responder às dúvidas] and they started setting a time to dispel doubts because it wasn’t possible to answer everything at once, ”he says between laughs.
In the beginning, the time at home was marked by sadness and dissatisfaction, and the young man says that loneliness hit him and he even wants to stop dedicating himself to physics. “After a while, I had the pleasure of being alone and studying in my corner. In the end I even think it was better for me. “
The discipline won gold at the Olympic Games, which were held remotely from July 17th to 24th. The Brazilian delegation met in Campina Grande (PB) to take the test, which was monitored by a Lithuanian jury. A total of 380 students from 76 countries took part.
For five hours, the participants had to prove their knowledge of modern physics and quantum mechanics in the theoretical test and about electricity and behavior of electronic devices in the experimental test.
“The test is perfectly designed so you don’t understand what’s going on,” says Caio, who says it only took him 1h30 to read the exercises. The medals are divided into points, so that it is possible, for example, for several people to win a silver or bronze medal.
According to Professor Fogo, Brazil has a tradition of bronze and has already won quite a bit of silver in the competition launched in 1967. Gold, on the other hand, is extremely rare. “You can’t start preparing months earlier. In my experience, it was only a short time for Caio to be so well prepared. “
The virtual edition of the International Physics Olympiad made it impossible for young people to get in touch with some Nobel Prize winners who are used to giving lectures and taking photos with young people, as well as scouts from major international universities.
Caio does not rule out a degree in Brazil, but dreams of studying abroad – the other two Brazilian gold medalists went to the United States. For now he is thinking about studying computer science.
The young man, who defines himself as extroverted and closed at the same time, does not see himself as the smartest person in the room, but as the one who chases after and tries to improve himself. And that’s what the gold medalist has to do with geography, his least favorite subject, to pass the grade. After all, the school year is not over yet.