Students in Bowling Green and Indonesia compared notes Wednesday in an exchange of mathematical and geopolitical ideas.
Thirteen students from Bowling Green High School and their counterparts at a school in Indonesia had a 90-minute video chat where two teams at each school presented the math they did to distribute wind turbines among eight countries for a make-believe company.
They used carbon dioxide emissions, population data, wind capacity and the gross domestic product (GDP) to make their determination.
"It was really cool," said BGHS freshman Matthew Fyfe, "the way it connected two worlds."
Both schools came up with similar results, he continued.
"Even though we're miles apart, we worked together to find a solution."
Gabriel Matney, Rachel Wiemken, Julia Porcella and Alyssa Lustgarten from Bowling Green State University, who led the team, wanted to provide Bowling Green students the opportunity to meet, discuss and learn about perspectives of students from other countries.
Earlier this fall, Matney, Wiemken and Porcella met Russamita Sri Padmi of Indonesia at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in Khon Kaen, Thailand. At this conference, the team developed a Cross-Border Lesson Study between the United States and Indonesia.
The international team then created a model-eliciting activity that encompassed a real-life issue relating to wind energy around the world. The goal was to see how student ideas, assumptions and mathematical models allow for conversations between students from the United States and Indonesia.
"It went really well," said Matney after the Wednesday program, also touting the international relations and collaboration on global issues.
The students -- freshmen through seniors at BGHS and junior and seniors in Indonesia -- were doing algebra and statistics to come up with their equations.
BGHS math teacher Nirakar Thakur opened his classroom for the task.
As he explained it, the classes had to come up with "a fair and mathematical model to distribute the wind turbines."
Students were told the company Vestas had developed a new type of wind turbine that generates 20 percent more energy than previous models. Vestas wanted to test these new turbines in at least five countries and would donate 260 for the test.
The countries interested in receiving the turbines were Chile, China, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Thailand and the United States.
In three of four models, China was given the most turbines "because they are creating the most problems," said BGHS senior Noah LaPolt.
In one of two Indonesian models, the United States garnered the most turbines.
China got 192 turbines in the first Indonesian presentation. "That's OK," the student said, "because they cause the most trouble" in regard to emissions.
One BGHS team weighted the importance of each factor, giving a rating of nine to emissions.
It was a democratic decision, said freshman Elijah Poetzinger. His team gave China 125 turbines.
With his team, each country received at least one turbine.
"We want everyone to have a little piece of the pie," he explained.
The final Indonesia team added wind speed to its equation. Not a listed data option, the team took the average wind speed of the capital of each country for its math.
That gave the U.S. 209 turbines and China only 24.
BGHS students were quick to point out the wind speed of the capital is not representative of the entire country.
A noted difference between the two countries was the BG teams weighted their equations based on perceived importance and wanted to know why their counterparts didn't.
The Indonesian teams felt all the factors were equally important.
Ethical questions are hard, Poetzinger said after the event.
"Math isn't different across the world," added freshman Terra Sloane.