Three Georgia high school students have won the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, May 18-21 to compete in a contest that tests their ability to create solutions to environmental challenges with students from 44 countries.

The winners competed in a contest at the Atlanta-based Istanbul Center with more than 20 students from Florida and Georgia. Their entries covered a wide range of topics including developing alternative energy sources, pesticides and ways to decompose waste. 

The three winners are to compete in the International Environmental Project Olympiad, an annual event held in Turkey

Mouhcine Kanouni, a part-time professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department at Kennesaw State University who served as one of the judges, said he was impressed by the participants’ concern for the environment.

Mr. Kanouni told GlobalAtlanta that he was amazed by the way that the school systems instilled an awareness of environmental challenges in the students.

First place winner Raja Selvakumar and his teacher Karol Higgins, from Milton High School north of Atlanta, won an all-expense paid trip to Turkey.

The 10th grader’s project focused on testing an alternative energy source for surgical nanobots, tiny robots used in surgery. His project showed that it is possible to replace batteries with biological fuel cells that create electricity through natural processes.

Julia Abelsky, second place winner and a 10th grader from North Springs Charter High School, who studied the effects of mulch on fertilizing lawns, and Vander Harris, third place winner and an 11th grader from Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, who studied alternative pesticides, also won a trip to Turkey, excluding airfare.

The contest was sponsored by a number of organizations, including Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast, Georgia Department of Education, Georgia State University’s College of Education and the Turkish Cultural Center of Tampa Bay, Fla.

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