"Knowledge has no boundaries. Science increasingly lacks international cooperation. Education is the strongest lever of economic and social development in modern times."
Clichés aside, we decided, as is our prerogative, to attempt a literal interpretation of these principles and embarked on a journey together: the words that follow will give an account of this path and the experiences shared...
It all started about three years ago, at a teacher training meeting in Copenhagen. Contacts were made naturally, and thus the bold idea was born of devising an international exchange program between two schools, from two countries with their own educational idiosyncrasies - St. Peter's International, Portugal, and Solrød Gymnasium, Denmark - with an immense desire to go beyond the level of non-formal education, in a transdisciplinary framework, on the shoulders of a strong metacognitive component, and to establish bridges of organic and functional convergence.
Motivated by the centenary of the commemorations of the founding of the Niels Bohr Institute (1921-2021), located at the University of Copenhagen, and by the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1922-2022) - to Niels Bohr himself, one of the greatest advocates of Quantum Theory, whose name would forever be associated with the commonly known Copenhagen Interpretation -, we believed it would be fitting to embark on such a program. Associated to the subject areas of Mathematics and Chemistry - in a delicate intersection between the IGCSE, A-Levels and IBDP courses -, this would help launch the first concepts regarding the peculiarity of the quantum world, through which an informal explanation of some technical terms, such as: wave-particle duality, double slit experience, superposition of states, quantum uncertainty, pairing, collapse of the wave function, refoundation of the excluded third principle and complementarity. Above all, we intended to provide some essential mathematical tools to formalize the theory, and, for now, the first bet was on Sinusoidal Waves, in the context of Trigonometric Modelling.
After a few months of collaboration at a distance, and after having waited longer than initially foreseen, given the limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic, we decided to schedule the first meeting of approximately sixty students from both countries. We agreed that the first endeavour would take place at our school, on 24th and 25th September: the first two days of the program would include an incursion into the Mathematics behind Sinusoidal Waves, accompanied by a specific laboratory component. There were also moments to socialise and to carry out some sportas activities, expressly designed to enhance the group dynamics intended among all students.
We cannot fail to underline the exemplary behaviour of all the students who freely decided to join us, on a Saturday and Sunday, having shown high levels of mutual respect and cooperation, from the very beginning, from both sides. The substantial gains obtained speak for themselves, having been widely recognized and reverberated by all who were present.
It is also important to underline that the current program will continue: from October 2021 to April 2022, new online meetings will take place in order to continue the work developed, so as to enhance the necessary mathematical tools. Once the defined agenda is completed, it will be time to head to Copenhagen, next April, in order to experience, first hand, the educational environment that one breathes in Solrød, and to visit the Niels Bohr Institute and the University of Copenhagen.
Last but not least, a huge word of appreciation to our new Director, Mr. Alex Callow, the Coordinator responsible for the International Section, Mrs. Telma Fresta, who provided all the support required and the logistics. I also thank our two Danish colleagues, Michael Blomgren Krøl and Henrik Birkedal, without whom the meeting would not have been possible, as well as our Group colleagues, Mrs. Rute Guerreiro and Mr. Filipe Madeira.
In addition to the knowledge acquired and the unforgettable experience lived, we believe that strong bonds of mutual friendship are here to stay. Knowledge, yes; but at the service of humanity, whenever possible. After all, isn't this the purpose of School?
Coordinator of the IS Department of Mathematics at St. Peter's International School,
Professor Nelson Agostinho.
Palmela, 4th October, 2021