IICS Grade 6 is currently preparing for their PYP Exhibition.The students have to execute the steps for this project themselves with the careful guidance of their teachers and with some help from their mentors. Students are paired with IICS staff or faculty members who volunteer to mentor, who are chosen based on their similar interests with the student.

I have mentored Grade 6 students for their Exhibition projects for many years. This year was unique because of the thing my mentee and I have in common. Ben and I are both avidly interested in quantum mechanics and nanotechnology. Now, I follow advances in the field just from a layperson’s perspective; it’s the natural non-fiction extension of a lifetime of loving science fiction.

But for Ben, science is his future. It’s what he wants to do.

As his mentor, I wanted him to have a special experience investigating his subject matter. Since I have been with IICS for about fifteen years now, I know a lot of our former graduates. Fortunately, I knew that a 2007 graduate of IICS, Derin Dayigil, works at a company that produces boron of the quality needed for nanotechnology. In fact, his company provides the CERN laboratory in Switzerland with boron for its nano magnets. When Derin heard that a student from his old school was interested in nanotechnology, he arranged to have us meet with one of his company’s partners–their research and development chief–  Professor Dr. Mehmet Sömerwho works in the Department of Chemistry at Koc University. 

Ben, his mother, and I went to Koc University this week, Derin met us there, and we spent the next four hours learning so much about boron and technology. I don’t think Ben expected that his mother and I would enjoy the day as much as he had!

Here is what Ben’s mother, Elif, had to say about the day…

Both for me and my son it was an informative, interesting, exciting and wonderful experience. I think that will remain as an unforgettable day for Ben.

When we arrived, Ben was pretty nervous and shy. He was intimidated to speak with a professor and thought that because of his age that he did not belong there…but the hours we spent there, with Dr. Professor Mehmet Sömer and his friendly research team, the things we saw and the things we learned all melted away his initial hesitations and he returned home just walking on air. That day bolstered his passion for science and what can be achieved through science.
Touring through the laboratory and having all the state of the art equipment explained to us with such care an interest, with people who listened to and appreciated Ben’s questions and insights made him feel like when he grows up that he could find his rightful place in the world of science, contributing to global knowledge.

He also got a chance to see what university life looked like as well as what scientific ideas looked like when applied to real life. When he returned home that evening, he was so energized and talked nonstop about his experience.
His words made me so happy when he told me, “Mom, I don’t think I have to be worried about what I will be able to do in the future. I am full of hope that I can do it.”

To make him feel that is the best gift anyone could give a child. Thank you so much for the experience!

I agree with Elif completely. Derin & Dr. Sömer taking the time to inspire a student was not just incredibly kind of them, but a great way to groom the next generation of scientists who will follow in their steps!

Now that Ben has added perspective from a scientist and R&D innovator in the field of nanotechnology, it will be interesting to see how he connects his passion to a world issue of renewable energy. Come visit us on Day X to see the result!

Jen Gokmen, Communications Coordinator