scientists shine in national contests
SINGARAJA, North Bali (JP):
Fourteen-year-old I Komang Adi Aswantara fromthe small town of Singaraja
startled judges at the National Youth Science Contest in Jakarta with his
simple yet brilliant scientific project -- a tool to control sea erosion.
In front of noted scholars such as Andi
Hakim Nasution, a professor at the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB),
Komang eloquently explained how thetool works.
The tool is a one-by-one meter corrugated
iron wall that is placed at a 30 degree angle along coastal areas.
Unlike stone walls which are easily worn
away by the sea waves, iron is resistant to the water.
Komang thought this metal wall was much
more effective in preventing sea water from eroding the coastal areas, as
compared to the existing stone walls.
He boldly explained his finding before the
judges, who were moved to select him as the winner of the contest.
"It was a three-month trial-and-error
experiment. I kept making improvement here and there to create this
effective equipment," said the shy Komang while showing his creation
at his school's library.
The third-year student at SMP 1 junior
high school spends his time after school at Kampung Tinggi village,
formerly Singaraja sea harbor, watching the waves in the sea.
He noticed that the present sea erosion
control project along Singaraja beach was not working very well.
Driven by curiosity, Komang set out to
create a better system. With the support of his parents, friends and
teachers, Komang took part in the contest, held last August by the
Ministry of National Education in cooperation with the Indonesian
Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
"I never thought that my project
would impress the jury. I was so nervousbecause all the participants were
very clever and creative," Komang said recently at his school in
Komang said he was very happy to receive a
computer as part of his prize for winning. "I am able to learn how
to use the computer, to surf the Internet and play various computer
games," Komang said happily.
The youngest son of two teachers, he hopes
to continue his studies in science.
"I want to become a great scientist
like Albert Einstein," Komang said.
Professor Andi Hakim, who delivered the
prize to Komang, was pleased to see so many young talents.
"Indonesia needs so many other
Komangs, to educate them to become gifted scientists," Andi
The contest, held annually in conjunction
with the Independence Day, is aimed mainly at encouraging young students
to explore and experiment.
Sofar Silaen, head of the young scientist
program at LIPI, said that suchcontests provided a forum for the youth to
showcase their ideas and to testtheir writing and communication skills.
"If we want to build an intellectual
society, we should start in the early years," said Sofar.
He also said that this year's contest was
dominated by participants from outside Jakarta.
"This year's contest belonged to
Bali. Both of the winners from the contests organized by LIPI and
Mendiknas were students from Singaraja," Sofar said.
The winner of LIPI's science contest in
August 2000 was Ni Nyoman Metri Agustini, 15, a student at SMAN I high
school in Singaraja.
Metri conducted research on banana fibers
and developed the fibers as textile and handicraft materials.
"The jury included Dr. Pratiwi
Sudharmono, Indonesia's astronaut candidate, and many other prominent
figures. I felt so pessimistic," said Metri, who was accompanied at
the interview by her school principal I Made Sudjana.
Before the interview, Metri presented her
findings to small-scale entrepreneurs in Singaraja.
"Bali has abundant banana trees. We
can use banana fiber for various purposes and create high-quality and
export-oriented shoes, handicrafts andtextiles to give more value-added
and financial benefit to local artisans,"said Metri.
In l999, Metri also grabbed second place
at LIPI's science contest, when she was still in junior high school.
"My mother, who is a teacher here,
always encourages me to explore more subjects," said Metri, who
dreams of becoming a doctor.
The principal said he was very proud of
his students's academic achievements.
The principal also said the school boasted
some other fine budding academics. One of these students, Putu Wardika,
will represent Indonesia atthe International Mathematics Olympics in the
United States next month (November).
"Singaraja has so many promising young scientists, but we don't have the facilities or money to fully support their enthusiasm," Sudjana said.