They participate in all the qualifications, first at school then at the regional level, up to the international one, like the athletes who dream of Tokyo. And they get on the podium with the same joy in their eyes, the satisfaction of having won in their life or, at least, of having marked a goal. Proud of their knowledge, why not, more than nerds. Over one hundred thousand students participate in the Olympics of disciplines promoted by the Ministry of Education: mathematics, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek, Italian, but also robotics, problem solving, economics and finance. 17 competitions, even in teams or divided by two and three years of high school. A growing phenomenon, which involves more and more schools, including institutes abroad: this year we saw youngsters studying in Athens and New York in the Italian finals. And he was placed among the top three Gökçe Arslan of the Italian high school Imi in Istanbul. Minister Patrizio Bianchi congratulates the participants of the competitions that have taken place at national level in recent months: «They have shown vitality, spirit of initiative, competence. They made it clear that the school is increasingly alive within the community ».
In the competitions, held at a distance, some records were also marked in 2021: the first student of a technical institute who wins in philosophy, a subject only available in high schools; the boom of girls in math competition. Not that there are many, the gender gap in science subjects continues to weigh, but this year 38 out of 301 entered the national individual competition: a success, considering that years ago they were 7-8. «A first sign – underlines Bianchi – that we must grasp and feed. As ministry we will pay particular attention to the development of Stem disciplines starting from childhood, with a view to interdisciplinarity and equal opportunities for access to careers ».
Turin – Aron Fiore: “I beat high school students, philosophy is part of me”
You train like in sport, with courses held by teachers in the afternoon. Sandro Campigotto, professor at the Gemona high school, coached the team of girls who defeated at the mathematics Olympics, seven students, all motivated: “The team formula allows them to express themselves at their best, they learn together not to give up in front of a difficult problem “. Book vouchers, cash prizes delivered to schools, travel, admission to training internships are won. But the meaning is to participate to show yourself how much you are worth: “It helps to understand your talents, you bring out the best”, explains the representative Carla Guetti. With a slightly bureaucratic expression, it is called the enhancement of excellence.
The satisfaction for Aron Fiore is double. He took third place at the Philosophy Olympics. But he did it by breaking a taboo: he is the first student of a technical institute to beat high school students. He did everything by himself, because it is not a subject of study in technicians, fascinated by the lessons of his literature teacher Maurizio Piendibene. “He ignited the passion and I started studying philosophy on my own,” he says. «Kant is my favorite for his invitation to dare to be wise: know aude! You have to find the courage to make use of your intellect ». Aron, 18, class 5 A of the Itis Pininfarina of Moncalieri, found that courage. «You don’t need notionism, but reason for every aspect of life. Philosophy trains you to think, to use reason that allows you not to delegate, not even to machines ». Participating was not easy. “I felt at a disadvantage, so I chose the test in English, the high school students of the classic would have preferred Italian: I had less competition”. Four tracks in the ethical, aesthetic, theoretical and political fields. «I chose the theoretician, closer to scientific thought. When the winners were announced, the vice principal linked the Lim board to the awards ceremony: the whole class exploded. What will I do after I graduate? Engineering”. A humanist engineer. “Philosophy will remain a part of me.”
Vibo Valentia – Martina Greco: “Victory in Latin redeems for my land”
“I didn’t expect it, but for a province that is always among the last in Italy this victory of mine is experienced as a redemption, finally something beautiful”. Martina Greco, 17, attends the Morelli-Colao classical high school in Vibo Valentia. It arrived first at the Latin Olympics, a celebration for the family, the school, but also for many Calabrians in its municipality. “Culture is our redemption,” he says. Martina has clear ideas, after high school she wants to enroll in Medicine because “my goal is to help others by making use of what I have learned”.
She became passionate about the ancient world thanks to Professor Caterina Scolieri. His favorites Catullus and Cicero. He won because he made the best paper on love in reference to Catullus. “I talked about the sliding doors of love. Catullus refers to human passion as something that saves, then he feels disappointed in life and suffers from the betrayal of Lesbia ». He is also interested in politics: «I sympathize with the Socialist Party because I believe in solidarity, in the fight against inequalities, values that are being lost and found in the classics. Young people? They are not to be condemned: the pandemic has amplified the difficulties, I see so much coldness in relationships, but it is society that pushes us to this, we are disappointed by the politics that has overshadowed the school ».
Udine – Lucrezia Rainis: “Males and we females are equal in mathematics”
“It comes naturally to me and I enjoy it.” For Lucrezia Rainis, 16, math has never been a problem. “I know it’s not like that for everyone, mine is a passion.” Unusual for girls, underrepresented in science subjects. With six other students of the Magrini Marchetti scientific high school in Gemona (Udine), she won the Team Mathematics Olympics, women’s section. «Our victory is the demonstration that we are not outdone. Maybe we girls believe less in the possibility of making it, and instead it’s just a cultural stereotype that comes from afar, the male and female minds are at the same level ». Lucrezia is one who runs, a lot of athleticism, then left: «Too demanding».
But with mathematics it is like being on the track: “Even if you are talented, training counts.” They did it at school, at least once a week with the teachers in the afternoon. «A good group has been created, you learn to work by comparing yourself with the others, then you go to the race, win and lose together. At the beginning we thought we would not make it, we were down, then solving one exercise after another we climbed up positions, in the last ten minutes we reached first place, then confirmed ». His dream? “Travel the world. And work for NASA. Samantha Cristoforetti is a model for me ».
Naples – Marco Capatano: “Physics fascinates me so I understand reality”
“Finding models to describe reality, to understand it and predict what will happen: isn’t it fascinating?”. Marco Capatano, 18, reckoned with his father in the challenges in Monopoli as a child, and without a calculator. Raised on bread and numbers, he is a veteran of the Olympic competitions in Mathematics since middle school: two bronze medals, one silver, special mentions. But this time the gold in Physics arrived in a competition between 60 students from all over Italy.
«It is not a stress, there is preparation behind it and this is the meaning of these races. And then solving all the problems realizes you “he says. His high school friends, the scientist Elio Vittorini from Naples, call him a genius. “It amazes me who finds math difficult, but it’s a question of passion and training, like when I play basketball”. He loves strategy board games, has traveled a lot with his parents. «I define myself as a totally European and I would like to see a united Europe, a federation of peoples, really realized. Instead, the opposite is happening with Brexit ». Now he is aiming for the international Olympics in Lithuania. But first there is the Maturity. “It doesn’t scare me, it will be a way to focus on the admission test.” Where is it? Normal of Pisa.