Science in Turkish high schools

Science in Turkish high schools

This week, nearly 30 students from 11 Turkish high schools will be visiting the United States, Los Angeles for the final of a very exciting competition.

For example one of them is Merve Çöklü from Private Ankara Science High School who has developed a system that would identify finger prints over a glass surface with a laser designator and a smart phone, without using any chemical substance or any special device. She will compete with this project of hers. If this system is practiced, it will reduce to an incredible extent the cost of all the taking finger prints and checking them at their data bases for all police organizations in the world.

Another project belongs to Hazal Kaygıner and Ahmet Resul Karababa from Sıvas Science High School who are working on an animal based medication to treat liver cancer. The active ingredient of the drug will be obtained from egg yolk. This project will also compete in Los Angeles.

Another example: Merve Akbulut and Bircan Boğa from Adana Private Final Anatolia High School thought about an easier, cheaper and one which will undoubtedly create zero ethic issues, a substance to feed cell cultures that can be used instead of the cattle fetus. They are the whey. They are participating in this key competition with this project. If their method succeeds, just imagine, hundreds of thousands of laboratories over the world will start using this consumable which is the idea of two high school students from Adana.

 As I said, projects from 11 high schools of Turkey are participating in the grand finale to be held in the Unites States. Well, what is this finale? It is called International Science and Engineering Fair-ISEF, held for 65 years. This competition is supported since 1997 by Intel which is producing the microchips in all of our computers. The Turkish leg is also supported by Intel and the finalists were selected by The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).

Indeed, thousands of projects coming from all around the world are participating in the finale held in Los Angeles; this year the competition is very tough.

 Let me cite an example: For instance, in 2012, the grand prize of 75,000 dollars in the ISEF competition went to a student named Jack Andraka from North County High School from the US state Maryland.

Andraka, 15-years-old, has developed a diagnosis method for pancreatic cancer which is 26,667 times cheaper compared to existing methods, 168 times faster and 400 times more precise compared to the most widespread test ELISA and 20 to 50 percent more accurate compared to the CA10-9 test.

Such is the competition our high school students are participating. And their projects are not bad at all.
We need to become a country where all its high schools develop science projects. And these are all very good examples.

Science should accommodate more women

When the topic is gender equality, the talk is big but particularly in physical sciences the place of women is unfortunately very small. In surveys conducted, even if there is gender equality in graduation from high school, when it comes to graduation studies, women’s percentage falls to 30 percent, in doctoral level to 25 percent, in higher academic positions to 11 percent and as a natural result of this to 3 percent in Nobel prizes.

For this reason, women’s place in science needs to be supported. UNESCO since 2000 has been providing scholarships for female scientists in five continents together with the cosmetic giant L’Oreal.
This year, Turkish scientist Associate Professor Ahu Aslan Yıldız became one of the scholarship holders.

She is working in the field of materials science and biochemistry. Her research that will be supported, if succeeds, will break fresh ground in cancer treatments. Yıldız is aiming to develop some kind of a “medicine case” that will enable the chemotherapy drugs that kill the cancer cells to reach only the cancer cells and no other parts of the body.