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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“I want my students’ voices to be heard and their thoughts to be listened to”

Banu Yurtseven, with her way of teaching and thinking, is to be taken as a good reference point.

Let’s keep our ears close to the ground for her story!


My name is Banu Yurtseven. I am an English teacher at Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls. I have been teaching English as a second language since 2001. I have worked in some of the EU projects as a local expert. I am interested in social science, too.

Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls is a religious school for secondary and high school students; in Turkey, religious schools have a vocational programme. The school also offers English preparation classes, which means that 9th grade students take 20 additional 1-hour lessons in English. The goal of our school is to make our students responsible for their learning and to motivate them to reflect on how they learn best, to make them look at their own language and culture from a universal point of view by expanding their vision and knowledge of the world, to develop their critical thinking and to enable them to see problems from various points of view.

In addition, they learn about their own religion from a wide range of perspectives.

As a teacher, I want my students’ voices to be heard and their thoughts to be listened to. Since teaching on its own is not enough, we have to nurture their emotions and motivate them to become equipped with the necessary skills required today. They should gain a positive overview of different people and cultures.

To work with girls is very advantageous as they are calm, easy going, hard-working, ambitious, gregarious and considerate. They are mostly able to remain neutral before forming their opinions. They are able to find creative, ingenious solutions to problems. They are good at developing projects and use their creativity to tackle problems.

Nevertheless, teaching in a Theological High School can present the occasional difficulty. Sometimes it is difficult to engage students with political or universal subjects, because of their cultural and religious bias and preconceptions. They need to develop trust in you and talk in a rather cautious manner, as they combine typically adolescent behaviours with conservative lives. Unfortunately, their parents do not let them talk a lot. They are especially very sensitive about Islamophobia and do not want to discuss it. As girls, they want to express themselves but they are confronted with obstacles and dilemmas. This is why at every opportunity I encourage them to voice their opinions, sometimes discuss newspaper columns at break times, ask their thoughts about daily news etc., in order to encourage them to talk so that they can develop more self-confidence. With the help of EU projects, I try to encourage them and teach them to excel at public speaking, project management and ICT skills. On the other hand, I try to engage them with different activities and platforms, in order to start conversations with other young people. The EU project platforms motivate them to have their voices heard, which also strengthens their confidence.

Our lessons include debates and MUN classes (Model of United Nations), which provides them with an opportunity and the confidence to express themselves, as well as hope to be able to become brave, self-confident mothers. In my opinion, young people should learn to express themselves at an early age, for them to be able to make use of those skills during the rest of their lives.

As educators we must support them in the process, teaching is only a small part of our job.


Banu Yurtseven

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