Biology beyond borders

Hi, my name is Begum Dobrucali. I am sixteen years old. I live in Istanbul. I am an 11th-grade student at Atasehir 1 Doga College.

I wanted to make a project in Biology lesson from the beginning of the school, so I was always with my Biology teacher. I tried to follow her to be able to ask more and more questions about a Project. Her ideas were very important to me. I was always asking myself these questions;

What should I do? How can I do it? Where should I start?

I began to take notes of the problems around me and tried to produce solutions for them. One day on the beach I saw that the color was different at some parts of the sea surface. Some parts had a turquoise color. I took note of this as well. After that, in a fewdays’ time I saw the news about color changing ofsea due to the explosion of algae on television. Marmara Sea had become turquoise color. Then I started to research about algae. After I had learned that it is beneficial to human health, I decided to use algae in my project. Later, I started to think what I would produce. If algae could produce pigment, I thought I could produce organic food coloring. When I think about food coloring, all colorful candies and sweets come to my mind and of course most of the society love these sweets and candies especially the young ones. This means that there is a big problem. Because the synthetic food dyes in these desserts and candies jeopardize our health with the carcinogenic substances they contain.

When I found my project idea, I immediately went near my biology teacher. She had liked the idea very much. To get more information about this subject, we contacted to one of the assistant professors at Bosphorus University. He told us about the studies done with algae before for us. Finally, we decided to make organic food coloring in blue. That was the story of the emergence of my project.

Since I started to this project willingly and I began to spent all my free time researching this interesting subject. On the contrary, I was excited to make the project first and wonder about why no one has done this project before, or I was worried that they could not get positive results. Day by day the project slowly took its final form and blue coloring food coloring appeared.

Must the trial come to the stage of observation? The result was positive. My project was ready. Backward only the report section was left. I can’t say this part was fun but it had to be written at the last step.

I could not believe at first when I learned that I received an invitation to the Mostratec Science Olympics. How can my project be selected within hundreds of projects? On the other hand, I was happy but after a while this changed the place of joy with concern.

The biggest problem for me was that my English was not good enough. I was wondering if I could talk when I got there.” Could they understand me? How can they ask questions? what do I do if I don’t understand the questions asked? “These weresome of the questions that arised in my mind. I couldn’t remember how many times I made rehearsal about the project again before I went to Brazil, you can’t know how many nights I couldn’t sleep. But time passed very fast and I was at the airport. I was very uneasy. My face turned into white and I had a lot cramps on my stomach because of my excitement. On the board on the one hand, I curled into the seat, on the one hand, I was still trying to repeat what to say.

We finally came to Brazil. The first day we had registered and prepared the table. Meanwhile, I was relieved a little. There was no problem and I had told them about my troubles. I was relieved after telling my project once or twice in the following days. The translators there were high school students and this made me feel very comfortable. Because I could get along with them more easily and get used to the environment faster. I was told the same project hundreds of times, after a while, everything became easier. As for the judges, old, hard and critical types had come to my mind when I was dreamed. Whereas the judges who met me were friendly, sympathetic and curious.

In the award ceremony, the excitement of everyone and the joys of the winners of the award ceremony were worth seeing. The most difficult part of this competition was to say goodbye to each other after the ceremony. This contest did not pass as I had afraid before, everything was perfect. During my time in Brazil, I saw that I could easily do what I said I could not do, and I was more confident. When I encountered a problem, I saw that I could stand under it and learned not to give up. In fact, I saw that I could express myself by speaking English, I broke my prejudices. I had the opportunity to get to know different cultures by getting to know many people who have been living.

In fact, I started to learn different languages from my friends who I still talk to.

I’ve been able to understand how far I can cross my borders with Mostratec.

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Hunger of democracy

And now we leave the floor to Kuzey Sagkal, a young boy with very clear ideas on what democracy should be based on.

I am a 17 years old student from Doga Schools in Turkey. Me and my friend Deniz have been working on the topic of democracy since 2016. We have delivered a lot of workshops in Greece, Turkey and Finland.

People often talk about countries “becoming” democracies, once they start to have relatively free and open elections. But democracy includes far more than just elections, and it really makes more sense to think about the idea of ‘will of the people’, rather thanjust voting. Most of the Turkish people look at social democracy in a different way; for instance, choosing a class captain is considered to be something big in democracy, whilst in some of the more advanced countries such as Finland this is perceived as being just normal. The main reason behind our hunger for democracy is that we do not have a social democracy. We can only use democracy in its true essence only once in every five years, i.e. for the elections. We can restructure the way we think about democracy by educating our new generations on how to use democracy in their daily life. We can familiarize their opinions on democracy. Today, if we were to ask a Turkish citizen what democracy is, they would only make references to the elections, because that is all we have in the name of democracy in Turkey and underdeveloped countries. Me and my friend Deniz had conversations with people from other countries, who think their
countries are not democratic enough. We all have the same problems of lack of social democracy. In Turkey, our biggest obstacle is created by our minimum wages, which are too low, unlike EU and other advanced countries. Because of that, our people just focus on their work for subsistence and cannot really afford to care about democracy in their daily lives, even in their offices, which sets a bad example for their children who ignore anything about democracy, thus creating an endless loop.

EU projects showed me what is lacking in our democracy system and this led me into thinking about how to solve these problems.

1 Lack of social democracy

1.a Teaching democracy in our schools to the younger generation

as a subject like maths. However, the biggest obstacle is our government. Low educated people do not want to change this system and the current government is happy about this situation.

1.b Push them to use democracy in every scenario in their lives. For instance, choosing their meals at the family dinner by expressing their opinions, or choosing their student council through a democratic voting system, perhaps even including e-voting.

2 Rigging democratic elections

2.a Even though it does not look like a huge problem, it is one of the biggest problems inTurkey’s electoral system. By changing our systemto an e-voting model, we could minimise this risk and make voting easier.

In conclusion, if we were to apply these proposed actions step by step, we could advance our democracy and make use of democratic thoughts in our daily lives. Sure, it will take a long time to put these proposals into action, but our younger generations will be better for it.

 

Kuzey Sagkal from Doga Schools

 

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