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Thank you to our teacher and mentor: A letter from Google Science Fair finalists from Bosnia-Herzegovina

Editor's note: This post is part of our series for Teacher Appreciation Week. Look for more content on our blog and social media throughout the week. Don’t forget to add to the conversation using #ThankATeacher. 

This post comes from Anela Arifi and Ilda Ismaili, 2015 Google Science Fair global finalists who are high school students from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their teacher, Mrs. Aydan Meydan, won the 2015 Inspiring Educator Award, which acknowledges an educator who goes above and beyond in encouraging her students to achieve great things. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Arifi and Ismaili wrote a letter to say thank you to their teacher and mentor, Mrs. Meydan.


Dear Mrs. Meydan,

You inspire us to be confident and to always challenge ourselves. Throughout high school, we’ve turned to you as our mentor and inspiration. When we decided to apply for the Google Science Fair, you supported us every step of the way. You showed us that our science fair project wasn’t just another assignment — it was an opportunity to show the world what we can do.

Some people ask us how a math teacher could be our science fair mentor, and we explain how you put so much time and energy into understanding our project. You learned about chemistry and biology during your free time, so you could guide us. You taught us the importance of being lifelong learners. You’re constantly curious to learn more, whether it’s about our project or a new way of working. 

When we reviewed our research paper, we enjoyed teaching you about the properties of biodiesel and explaining the graphs and results, while you taught us the correct format for a research paper. We’re so thankful to have you teach us the principles as we share our knowledge of natural sciences with you.

Thank you for teaching us how to persevere. Whenever we came across a challenge, you told us everything would be okay. Two and a half years ago when we started the project, we reached out to university professors in search of a laboratory to use for our project. Professors responded skeptically — they thought we were too young and pointed out that we didn’t know anything about biodiesel or hydrogen storage. We felt rejected and discouraged. You lifted our spirits by assuring us we’d find the right laboratory. Many students are missing someone who will tell them everything will be okay — and everyone needs that. We all need moral support. 


You gave us the confidence to believe that we’re smart and capable. Here in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we don’t always have the chance to pursue every idea, but with you as a great mentor, we had every opportunity to show our talent and passion. Even if we’re in a small country and don’t have as many women in STEM, we can be part of the best science competition in the world. 

When we applied for the Google Science Fair, you told us we already succeeded by representing Bosnia-Herzegovina. We’ll never forget when you told us that the most important thing is to be inspired, and to inspire others. The most important part of the competition is to present our project, and if we inspire at least one person, we’re winners. 

Thank you for all that you do,
Anela and Ilda 

There are only a few weeks left to submit a science or engineering project to the 2016 Google Science Fair. Students that submit a project can nominate their teacher to win the 2016 Inspiring Educator Award.