Dynamite comes in small packages
Kgaogelo Bopape is an avid mathematics grade 9 learner from Horizon International School in Johannesburg. At age 15 he has made his mark as one of the country’s talented maths stars.
“In grade 8 I ended up winning the SAASTA Natural Science Olympiad. However, maths was more of my specialty and I subsequently entered for Horizon Maths Competition and the South African Mathematics Olympiad. I believe that my school produces students who are really good at maths and science by emphasising that students should get lots of training and exposure before participating,” explained Kgaogelo.
Kgaogelo’s hard work and dedication paid off as he was selected to represent South Africa at the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO) in Morocco. He also came fourth overall in the junior (grades 8-9) division of the prestigious South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) organised by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF). Almost 100 000 learners participated in the 1st round of the SAMO of which 18 868 learners from 736 schools participated in the second round. The best 203 learners from the second round qualified for the final round. He was also part of the Wits Siyanqoba junior A team which won the ASSA South African Mathematics Team Competition. He found the mathematics training camps organised by the SAMF very beneficial to his growth and development as a young mathematician.
Kgaogelo got involved in mathematics due to the fact that he wasn't good at other activities such as sports or the arts. “I do play chess for my school and I participated in a provincial chess tournament earlier this year. Although I'm quite short, I play recreational basketball simply because it's fun,” he said.
His biggest role model is Sir Andrew Wiles, the first person to prove Fermat's Last Theorem, which was unproven for 300 years until Sir Wiles proved it. It serves as a good example of how people should not give up on their dreams because although it seemed impossible. Kgaogelo wants to study Computer Science and is confident that he can with continued hard work and determination also make a success of his career.