The Sputnik crisis and science schools - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

The Sputnik crisis and science schools

In 1957, Soviet Russia launches a satellite named “Sputnik" into space before the U.S. and orbits it with success.

The incident that goes into history as the “Sputnik Crisis" begins at this moment.

The one who sends a satellite into space could release a missile too

The Russians orbiting a satellite creates great fear in the U.S. Because a country that is able to successfully send a rocket into space is very close to technology that is capable of hitting any point in the world from anywhere with an intercontinental missile.

Immediately after this shocking incident, then U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower calls the senate to an extraordinary meeting and asks that a research committee be established.

The reason for the U.S.'s falling behind in technology was not the inadequacy of universities or state institutions as you would expect the research to show.

The space race could have been lost because of science schools

The real reason is the inadequacy of education given at high schools. The committee shocks everybody by announcing that the U.S. lost the space race because of this reason.

The president is very surprised by this. However, he also accepts the painful truth that the science education provided at high schools by the Soviets is stronger than that provided in the U.S.

A decision is made with the president and senate's order to strengthen science education provided in high schools. The most striking of the reforms made is the opening of science schools, which are focused on raising scientists.

A large number of science schools are established in the U.S. and scientists are raised for universities. And later, they catch up with the Russians in the space race. And by setting foot on the moon in 1969, they leave the Russians behind.

This incident that took place in front of the entire world also revealed the fact that having good universities is not enough and that youth need to be guided and encouraged towards scientific studies at an early age.

Science schools in Turkey have fallen behind

Turkey opens its first science school in 1964 to avoid falling behind in this race. For a long time, it raises the strong scientist candidates of the future and sends them to university.

In the following periods, the science schools established under Cold War circumstances lose their power to compete and their ability to raise scientists. Hence, the infrastructure of sending scientists to universities in our country cannot be provided at high schools.

Istanbul Atatürk Science College graduates, who noticed this deficiency some time ago, established an association. They turned the Sputnik incident into a short film. They are trying to explain to everyone the strategic significance of science schools, that they create enough of a difference to show who will win the competition between super powers.

The issue of science schools must be debated

Science school graduates are going to open the issue's debate in a scientific manner with a symposium to be held on May 26-27. Their aim is to make it heard that the best way to overcome the deficiency of quality students that emerged, especially after the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)-affiliated colleges were shut down is, like in the past, science schools.

And for this, serious reforms are necessary in science schools from the teachers to the curriculum, the materials to the strategic planning.

We should remember that South Korea in particular has a very important experience in this regard. Koreans owe their success in technology to raising high-quality students in science schools.

They are going to explain how they did this at the symposium.

They are waiting for the National Ministry of Education to give importance to this matter. There is great benefit in the ministry making joint efforts with such civilian and volunteer teams concerning science schools. As a result of this, it will become more possible to send scientists to universities whose foundations were laid in high school.

I hope this matter will come to the attention of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım who have been saying that we need to join the race in the defense and space industry.


Cookies are used limited to the purposes in th e Personal Data Protection Law No.6698 and in accordance with the legislation. For detailed information, you can review our cookie policy.