February is in full swing, and with it the main school Olympiads, starting with All-Russia, which opens doors for the winners to the best universities in the country without exams, and ending with the Olympiad for 1st-6th grade students “I love mathematics”, whose task is to captivate children mathematics using non-standard problems and an interactive format.
Tatyana Babicheva, a prize-winner of the All-Russian Olympiad in Geometry, and now a methodologist of the Department of Mathematics of the MIPT Olympiad Schools, told us about why some families are afraid of children’s matolympiads and what they really give their children.
– Tatyana, some parents are literally frightened by the idea of their children taking part in the Olympiad movement. Why?
– Some parents believe that you need to be a genius to participate in the Olympiads. Others – that it is obligatory to prepare from the first grade. Still others do not understand the practical benefits.
– And in fact? How would you explain to your parents what a math Olympiad is?
– This is not a test or an exam, but real creativity, where each task is a unique plot that teaches you to go beyond the ordinary and develop logic with creative thinking. Math competitions discipline, learn to cope with stress, broaden horizons and reveal talents. The Olympics bring together and create an incredibly motivating and friendly learning environment. And they are also covered with a train of mystery.
– Mystery? In a super-rational sphere like mathematics?
– Sometimes the most intricate puzzles of history, geography, geology and many other areas were solved using a mathematical apparatus. There are seven so-called Millennium Challenges, for the solution of which a prize of $ 1 million is provided – for example, the one that the famous Grigory Perelman refused. Many of these mysteries were formulated in the 19th century and have not been solved, and one, Fermat’s Last Theorem, held out for more than 350 years.
For many math enthusiasts, these problems are primarily attracted by their complexity and the fact that they can succeed where others have failed. In the Olympiad, of course, there are no such problems, but their formulations and plots are sometimes quite unexpected and very attractive for enthusiastic children.
– What does participation in the math Olympiad give a child?
– Interest in the subject, awakening scientific interest! It is not for nothing that Olympiad problems are always structured in such a way that children have the opportunity to go beyond the framework of template solutions. But nevertheless, the main thing that comes to mind when people ask, “why do you need an Olympiad in mathematics” is entering a university. Winners and prize-winners of the final stage of the All-Russian Olympiad for schoolchildren can enter without exams in any university in the mathematical (and not only) direction. Upon admission to a non-profile direction, the All-Russian diploma is counted as 100 points for the USE in mathematics, and brown olympiads replace entrance exams to universities.
– Well, except for admission?
– As a rule, completed Olympiads are aimed at admission to prestigious universities and a career. Here the Olympiads serve as a training ground, since both studying at the university and a high-paying job imply a serious competitive aspect. Olympiad tasks in mathematics go beyond the classical school curriculum and provide a good basis for studying at a university, and not only in physics and mathematics. Among olympiads in mathematics, for example, there are often children who simultaneously participate in olympiads in foreign languages. They find logic, for example, in the construction of English phrases. History is easier for mathematicians – they can see patterns and cause-and-effect relationships.
– Did you have your own experience of participating in the Olympiads?
– I participated in the All-Russian Olympiads in mathematics, but I did not even qualify for the international one. However, the Olympiad movement showed me the beauty of mathematics and brought in an amazing community. I entered the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology without exams, successfully finished it, went to graduate school, successfully completed it, received an offer to work in France and defend my doctoral thesis there in a month. Thanks to the Olympiads, life has developed in such a way that I have never purposefully looked for work. There were always suggestions, I just had to choose what my heart is in.
– The modern world changes every few months. And hence the frequently asked question: is there any point in choosing a profession for life and comprehending it on the basis of fundamental education?
– Of course, who knows what awaits us, say, in 2050. But it is obvious that mathematical knowledge helps to acquire a specialty that will not become obsolete either in 5 years or 30. And here it is appropriate to say about the phenomenon of a slash career, the essence of which is the combination of several different jobs. And with knowledge of mathematics, the choice automatically expands. Here is a programmer. During the day, he develops artificial intelligence, and in the evening he lectures on the philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence. This is how two different sources of income appear: programmer / lecturer – through slash. Or, for example, I am a scientist / educator / writer.
– In short, will an olympiad in mathematics have an excellent career?
– You know, people who have achieved extraordinary success, almost all come from the world of techies. And here we again return to the causal relationship and logic that helped entrepreneurs find what the society demanded. This ability is also brought up by mathematics. But the beauty is that the Math Olympiad is not limited to this area. He can do genetics, design urban environments, create artificial intelligence, calculate the flight paths of spaceships. Or maybe go to the humanities or study philosophy. One of the most common and highly paid career paths in mathematics is programming. At the same time, the Olympiad skill of independently finding solutions opens the way to the most demanded and highly paid areas – big data, embedded systems development, Internet of Things.