Meet the delegation that is going to represent Brazil!
– By Sofia Costa, Communications Manager
The students participating in the IChO go through an intense marathon of 6 phases of the Brazilian Chemistry Olympiad, with a total duration of 2 years of study and preparation, and they have to overcome the challenges of different types of exams to be selected.
Meet the students
All students from the state of Ceará, aged 17, were awarded medals on the national stage, which involved experimental concepts demonstrated through video and went through a preparatory course with 14 other finalists based on advanced topics in chemistry, taught by professors from universities such as USP, UFPI, and UFMG.
They have all been studying for the Olympiad for over two years, dedicating time to practical laboratory work every week, preparing themselves year after year. They have also continuously improved their English skills and emotionally prepared themselves for two intense days of exams, all driven by a deep desire to bring visibility to the field of science in Brazil, which is considered underestimated by students.
“Chemistry is a science of utmost importance to society, playing a fundamental role in areas such as the environment, pharmaceutical production, and the industrial sector. With an increasingly alarming situation regarding environmental problems, chemistry can seek solutions to reduce the impacts caused by humans on the planet.[…] Therefore, young people interested in chemistry have much to contribute by continuing in this field professionally,” says João Vitor Fonseca.
The four students agree that participating in the International Chemistry Olympiad goes beyond the subject itself but also represents “an opportunity to inspire other young people to become interested in the academic and research fields, both of which are extremely important to our society since many scientific discoveries end up affecting and influencing our lives, even indirectly,” adds Nailton Castro.
Nailton Castro17 years old
Nailton started studying for the Olympiad first in mathematics at age 11, and soon after discovered chemistry, studying for the IChO ever since. He started learning English in elementary school to communicate with students from other delegations.
“It is a great responsibility to represent Brazil in the largest international chemistry Olympiad at the high school level, but at the same time, it is a great honor to apply the efforts of what I have studied to represent the country.”
Nailton believes it is necessary to expand the practical teaching of chemistry to show students the reality of what is usually only learned in theory. By showcasing the wide range of applications of different areas of chemistry in everyday life and scientific research, it creates academic and professional opportunities for other young people in the future.
Artur Magalhães17 years old
From a young age, he began participating in the mathematics Olympics, but after the pandemic of the last few years that Artur allowed himself to embark on chemistry, falling in love and studying vigorously. Despite almost not passing the state selective, he won bronze in the Ceará Chemistry Olympiad and qualified for the national level until he reached the international level.
“It is a great honor for me to represent Brazil in an international academic competition. Science is an underestimated field in my country, and I see this Olympiad as an opportunity to bring visibility to the area. I believe scientific programs like the Olympics are the right path, as introducing the subject to students early can ignite their interest in this field.”
Gabriel Aguiar17 years old
Gabriel started his path in 2021, still in elementary school, with the State Chemistry Olympiad, moving on to the national selective as the first step to reach the international competition, for which he qualified in 1st place.
“It is a great honor to represent Brazil in an international competition, and I feel very proud of the path I have traveled and the challenges I have faced to achieve this accomplishment. Regardless of the size of the challenge, above all, we always need to believe in ourselves and in our abilities. Not losing faith in oneself and never giving up are fundamental aspects in achieving anything.”
João Vitor Fonseca
João Vitor Fonseca17 years old
“It is a dream come true to represent Brazil in such an important and respected international competition like the IChO. Participating in an international Olympiad is a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world, allowing us to immerse ourselves in different cultures and form friendships with students who are also interested in chemistry. Moreover, it is a chance to learn and test our knowledge in chemistry through a high-level examination.”
João believes that to encourage young people to pursue a career in chemistry, “it is important to have projects that show students the field of chemistry and its potential to help society. The Olympics are extremely important in inspiring young people to study chemistry, as they stimulate curiosity and encourage students to delve deeper into the subject matter.”
Meet the mentors
The two mentors will be Prof. Lucas Carvalho Veloso Rodrigues, a Professor at the University of São Paulo, who will lead the delegation, and Prof. Nilce Pompeu, a Professor at the Federal University of Ceará.
While the students continue their preparations in their schools, the mentors thoroughly study the preparation to be ready for the problem discussion and arbitration stages. In addition, another key role is to talk to each student and help them stay centered and calm for the exams.
Like the students, the mentors also see an opportunity to inspire other students to enter the field: “I believe the first point is to demystify the relationship between chemistry and toxic or harmful substances. We must show how chemistry permeates everything around us (including ourselves). Incentives to show the benefits of chemistry in technology, in the positive social impacts are fundamental”, professor Lucas Carvalho.
Prof. Lucas Rodrigues
Lucas RodriguesMentor and head of delegation
Professor Lucas participated in Olympiads while still in school and feels inspired to provide continuity to new young people: “As a professor and researcher at a public university, I feel honored of the opportunity to follow future talents of Brazil for science and education, which are the core of my work.”
Lucas has a mission to demystify the relationship between chemistry and toxic or harmful substances. For him, chemistry is a core science that explains and changes the world and has the power to create conscious citizens with their impact on the world and the environment. Therefore, he believes in incentives to show the benefits of chemistry in technology, the positive social effects, and how chemistry permeates everything around, including humans.
“It is an honor to represent Brazil in a scientific, academic event, especially after a few years of cuts in science and education. I hope it will be a defining moment for the resumption!”
Nilce PompeuMentor of delegation
With a post-doctorate in the UK, she started her career as a professor at the Federal University of Piauí, coordinating the first Chemistry Olympiad of the state in 1995. After many experiences and studies, she coordinates different projects and the National Chemistry Olympiad Program.
For Professor Nilce, one of the ways to inspire young people is to show the potential contribution of Chemistry to life, the environment, sustainable development, the cure and treatment of diseases, and how it can contribute to the planet’s health.
“Participating in an International Olympics like the IChO representing Brazil is an honor. It is a feeling of pride for our country, not forgetting the responsibility.
The participation of a student in a scientific Olympiad contributes to awakening scientific curiosity and deepening the studies, and also allows the appreciation of the student, formation of interpersonal ties, and opening of new horizons, among other aspects that can result in better-prepared professionals, since elementary school, with awareness and responsibility of their contribution to a more sustainable planet.”