Serdar Karatekin co-authored The Geometry Guide for Elementary and Middle Schools when he was a high school student in Istanbul. He wrote the book for teachers, suggesting how to make geometry fun for students in grades one through eight.
“From my experience, geometry education in Turkey was not designed to be fun. I thought it would be useful for teachers to give kids the tools to play as they learn,” says Karatekin, adding that the guide offers innovative, interactive, and fun methods to teach the subject to young children. His book won first prize among 2,794 other projects at a Turkish competition organized by the Ministry of National Education in 2004.
Later, he entered a national science project competition organized by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. After winning the regional contest in Istanbul with a physics project on proving Einstein’s special theory of relativity, he won the national competition in Ankara. Then, he was selected to represent Turkey in the 17th European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Moscow, where he won a weeklong trip to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Institute Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, where he interacted with scientists and learned about their research. “It was an amazing experience,” he says.
A guitarist for 10 years, Karatekin last year as a freshman founded the first flamenco/Latin band at MIT. “I feel so passionate about music. It makes me happy, stirs my emotions, and brings me joy. Music is a unique way to express myself. I often feel I can express my love, sadness, and excitement for life better with music than I can with words.” The four-member band already has held more than a dozen concerts and performed on MIT’s radio station, WMBR. Soon the group plans to record a CD.
Karatekin, who receives the Kate and Gordon B. Baty Scholarship, says he once met Kate Baty, but was so overwhelmed by her generosity, he barely spoke about the scholarship. If he could speak to her now, he says, he would say, “Thanks so much for giving me this chance to study at MIT, because you have made possible a whole, new, great experience for me.”
Karatekin, who plans to double major in electrical engineering and computer science as well as management, one day plans to launch a technology company and employ people who really need the money. He wants to work to blur the boundary between rich and poor.
“These donors believe that I have the potential to do good things for the world. I would never want to disappoint them,” he says.
“If it weren’t for the scholarship, I wouldn’t have ever been at MIT. Being at a world-class institution, I feel I can fulfill my potential completely here. This motivates me to work harder. An opportunity like this comes once in a lifetime.”