This post is courtesy of Datanaut Fall 2017 alumna Aybuke Turker. Aybuke is currently working on her PhD and is researching ways to apply artificial intelligence to education to enable personalized learning. 

Aybuke Turker

I joined the NASA Datanauts as a member of the Fall 2017 class. The cool thing about being a Datanaut is that once you become a Datanaut, you’re one for life! From when I started the program to now has been such an incredible journey; you would be amazed to know how ready people are to give, teach, and learn. Everyone is humble and they truly care about taking science a step further. It’s in NASA’s DNA to work collaboratively because rocket science can’t be accomplished alone!

NASA has a wide range of open source projects and educational resources for people who are interested in data science. As a NASA Datanaut, I got the opportunity to use these resources and frequently went to both online and onsite talks from NASA engineers, scientists, and management. Among others, I listened to inspirational and informative talks by NASA astronaut Alvin Drew, NASA Chief Information Officer Renee P. Wynn, NASA Open Innovation Program Manager Beth Beck, and data scientists Brian Thomas and David Meza.

Sharing NASA with the Turkish Community

As a NASA Datanaut, I wanted to do more than just learn and explore space with the bright minds at NASA, I wanted to contribute by using my unique frame of reference to bring science to others. To this effort, I shared what I learned during the program with my network of communities in the US and Turkey, and shared the resources as well. In time, I started getting many emails and tweets from Turkish educators, students, and parents asking for Turkish-language resources. No matter how good these NASA educational resources might be, they simply aren't accessible to Turkish people who don't speak English. I realized that there was an opportunity here to expand these resources to others. Future generations without borders will take what we have and expand upon it—what could be better than investing in that? If more people got the chance to work on the same problem from different angles, we might solve problems sooner and better. I set out on a mission to help translate NASA’s educational resources into Turkish and translate Turkish space science resources into English.

As there was almost no way for me to translate all the content into Turkish on my own, I created a crowdsourcing project where interested people could contribute to this effort. Again, science is not just a one person journey! With the help of Dr. Umut Yildiz, a Turkish NASA scientist with a huge audience on Twitter, we recruited hundreds of volunteers for the project. The volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds from high school and college students to teachers, engineers, medical doctors, and stay-at-home moms. Based on their area of expertise, the volunteers are divided into five main groups: translators, teachers, editors, video editors, and graphic designers. A one person project has now become a 470+ people project, and this number is growing every day. Once we are done translating an English-language NASA document into Turkish, we send it to teachers to make sure we've used the right educational words. So teachers, some of whom don't speak English yet still play a critical role in this projet, make the final edits to the Turkish version to make sure the document is understandable for other teachers and students. In short, we have work for anyone who wants to contribute.

One Translation Down, So Many More to Go!

Excerpt of the Turkish-language version of

Currently, we’ve finished translating NASA’s BEST Students: Beginning Engineering, Science, and Technology An Educator's Guide to the Engineering Design Process for Grades 3-5  into Turkish.You can find the Turkish translation of the book here, and the original English-language version here. For future translations, we have an incredibly smart and dedicated group of project managers leading multiple translation projects simultaneously to get work done more quickly. As I mentioned before, our goal is not only to translate NASA’s resources into Turkish, but also to translate Turkish space science resources into English. As such, we are actively looking for good Turkish resources to translate to give back to the community.

With projects like this, I feel that we can make top notch science education available to more people all across the world. There is so much to explore and it is definitely not one nation’s job to do it all. Once we create scientists without borders, we will have more and more dedicated people working together to tackle issues and solve problems quickly to build a better future for all of us. At this rate of advancement, maybe we will be vacationing somewhere other than Earth in our lifetime! With this project, Turkish students will learn from NASA’s resources and English-speaking students will benefit from Turkish educational resources. I feel so lucky to be part of the NASA Datanaut team and lead such an important project for future generations. The best is yet to come and we are working hard to make it happen. As John Maxwell said, "Teamwork makes the dream work!"

About Claire

Datanauts Community Manager

NASA Ames Research Center