National proficiency exams in the United States indicate that only 26 percent of 8th graders were proficient in math in the 2022 academic year. In the same calendar year, 36 percent of 4th graders showed proficiency in mathematics. Evidence such as this suggest that as we age, we lose some of our capabilities for learning and understanding math.
Though mathematics seems to be an area where the majority of the population struggles, this isn’t the case for everyone. Big Story’s “Good with Numbers” tells the story of gifted young students who excel at mathematics and science related fields. This documentary shows audiences firsthand how students in China, Brazil, Columbia and the United States, learn, train and compete for the prestigious Yau Science Award, named after the renowned Chinese-American mathematician Shing-Tung Yau.
Audiences are brought into the daily lives, homes, and educational facilities of students across three continents to show the different living and learning conditions and challenges they face. Meet students like Brazilian Calebe Abílio, from the small village of Vargem Alta. Through mathematics, at just 14 years old, Calebe was already assisting his family in earning a living, while chasing his dreams in international competitions.
“I had to calculate the change, how much money I had, how many pieces of candy I sold. I also helped my mom calculate the cost. Then I realized that math is profitable. That was something that inspired me a lot,” he says.