It was claimed in a news article of Anadolu Agency dated December 7, 2018 that two high-school students named Emirhan Belli and Serkan Aslan achieved going on to semi-final in Google Science Fair with their project which aims to produce bioplastic from leftover vegetables and fruits. It was stated in the article that Belli used the oven of his mother to produce the plastic which does not harm the environment.
Another news article about the high-school students which was published on Anadolu Agency on December 9, 2018 after the news remained on the agenda can be found as well. According to article with the headline “Ministry Selçuk supported the high-school inventors”, the Minister of National Education, Ziya Selçuk talked to Emirhan Belli on the phone. It was specified in the article that Belli would go to the US for the semi-final of Google Science Fair to be held in May.
The claim about the advancement of the high-schoolers to semi-final of Google Science Fair was reported on the websites such as NTV, Aydınlık, Hürriyet, Yeni Şafak, Sputnik, HaberTürk, Yeni Asya, Yeni Akit, Web Tekno, Time Türk, Star, Kanal B, Mynet and Daily Sabah.
Applications to Google Science Fair continued on the dates of the news articles
Information about the competition can be obtained on the official website of Google Science Fair which has been held since 2011 and encourages participation of the students between the ages of 13 to 18. The competition schedule 2018 is available on the website. In this schedule, the start and end dates of the applications are September 13, 2018 and December 12, 2018, respectively. Finalists of the competition will be announced in spring 2019. Besides, names of the above mentioned students are not stated among the semi-finalists of the past years in Google Science Fair. It can be said that the claim is false, considering the reporting dates of the news articles of Anadolu Agency, December 7 and December 9, 2018.
This claim was discussed on Google Science Fair Help Forum 2018 as well. It was responded to a question regarding the advancement of the Turkish students to semi-final that the applications were continuing and the judging phase did not start.
teyit.org asked a question about the same issue on the official forum page of Google Science Fair and received the following answer: None of the finalists or winners for the 2018-2019 Google Science Fair have been selected yet and the global finalists will be announced in May 2019.
teyit.org contacted with the journalist of the said news from Anadolu Agency, Zehra Melek Çat. Çat stated that the document evidencing the advancement of Belli to semi-final in Google Science Fair is in his computer, but he cannot show it because of a “virus” in the computer.
Then, teyit.org interviewed with the officials of Borsa İstanbul Başakşehir Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School which is the school of Emirhan Belli. They mentioned that they will not be able to share the contact information of Belli and he was transferred to another school on December 20, 2018. Meanwhile, a photo of Emirhan Belli taken at İstanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education can be found on Facebook page of Emirhan’s father, Ramazan Belli.
teyit.org talked to Ramazan Belli on the phone. He explained that Emirhan applied to the competition, but there was a misunderstanding about advancement to semi-final or going to the US. According to his statements, Emirhan was studying in kitchen of the house for his project, and Emirhan and his participant friend will make a presentation about the project. Furthermore, Belli highlighted the transfer of his son to another school upon the request of the ministry. Ramazan Belli reported that Emirhan did not want to speak to teyit.org.
Lastly, teyit.org called the school of the second high-schooler Serkan Aslan, Şehremini Anatolian High School. The school manager said that he will not be able to share the contact information of Aslan, but they did not receive any information about his project.
A similar project from Turkey won award in Google Science Fair 2013
As stated above, the project of the high-school students Emirhan Belli ve Serkan Aslan is about “the production of bioplastic from leftover vegetables and fruits.” Interestingly, it is quite similar to the project of Elif Bilgin, the award winner of Google Science Fair 2013 who developed a project for “the production of bioplastic from banana peels.”
In the news article of Anadolu Agency, Belli and Aslan suggested that they produced bioplastic, using the fruit and vegetable peels, and such bioplastic can be used in various fields. On the other hand, the project of Elif Bilgin who won award in Google Science Fair 2013 was about the generation of bioplastic from organic wastes. Bilgin chose to use banana peels for her project.
Moreover, Bilgin specified in a news article of Sabah dated June 29, 2013 that she was keeping the bioplastic produced in the kitchen of her house. Likewise, Belli and Aslan stated that they studied in the kitchen and used the oven to produce bioplastic.
It can be seen that Emirhan Belli uploaded a video to YouTube on December 11, 2018 following the related news articles. In footage, Belli explained his project with manual drawings. He said that he conducted 12 experiments, he failed in 10 of them, but he produced bioplastic in two experiments.
Official website of Google Science Fair provides information about the award-winning project of Elif Bilgin. Similarly, Bilgin stated that she performed 12 experiments and 10 of them were unsuccessful whereas she obtained successful results in two experiments. Besides, a video of Bilgin regarding her project for Google Science Fair can be found. It is understood that the video of Belli dated December 11, 2018 is almost the same as Bilgin’s video shot in 2013.
teyit.org contacted to Elif’s father, Abdullah Bilgin who is the communication advisor of Elif as well. He pointed out that Belli’s project extremely resembles the award-winning project of her daughter.
To conclude, the claim that Emirhan Belli and Serkan Aslan went on to semi-final in Google Science Fair is false. The applications to the competition ended on December 12. Besides, the judging phase has not begun, yet. The finalists will be announced in spring 2019. Moreover, it can be said that the project of the high-school students is very similar to the project of Elif Bilgin who was awarded in 2013.
LAST UPDATE: 17.12.2018 / 10:20 am
- The answer of the official page of Google Science Fair to teyit.org was added.
Google Science Help Forum 2018, The explanation about the winners, December 10, 2018
Phone call with Zehra Melek Çat
Phone call with the officials of Borsa İstanbul Başakşehir Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School
Phone call with the manager of Şehremini Anatolian High School
DW, She produced bioplastic from banana peels, June 28, 2013
Facebook, Photo of Emirhan Belli and his father taken at İstanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education, December 10, 2018
Phone call with Ramazan Belli, December 14, 2018
Google Science Fair, Is it possible to produce bioplastic from banana peels
Sabah Newspaper, Bioplastic produced from waste brought science award, June 29, 2013
YouTube, Video shared by Emirhan Belli, December 11, 2018
YouTube, Video shared by Elif Bilgin, April 21, 2013
Written interview with Abdullah Bilgin