The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Think that science is boring or just for geeks? Think again. The "Science for All" program introduced by the government Tuesday is set to change your mind.
The three-day program, from May 8 to 10, is designed to generate greater interest and an understanding of science among elementary school students at state schools.
SCIENTIFIC FUN: Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo (right)shares his can be during the Science for All event held Tuesday at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. JP/Irawaty Wardany
The program launch was marked by a signing ceremony attended by the state minister for research and technology, Kusmayanto Kadiman; Jakarta Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo; Director General for Elementary and Secondary Education at the Education Ministry, Suyanto; and Yohanes Surya from the Surya Institute.
"The impression among students is that science is difficult. This is wrong," said Fauzi Bowo before the signing ceremony.
He said teachers need to use language that can be easily understood, in order to make science an interesting subject for elementary school students.
After the ceremony, Fauzi and Kusmayanto took turns at giving brief science lessons to 250 students from the 20 elementary schools that attended.
Fauzi, who kicked off the lessons, said he felt more nervous talking in front of children than he did adults.
When it was Kusmayanto's turn to give a lesson, he presented the topic of energy and interacted with the students.
"Who knows what energy is?" he asked.
The children raised their hands simultaneously. "Power," said one. "Strength," said another. "Something that gives us the ability to move," said yet another.
Kusmayanto, who referred to himself as "Pak Kus", encouraged the students' curiosity and urged them to find answers for themselves, through observation or simply by using common sense.
"Everything around us can be used to learn about science," he said.
He added that teaching children was an obligation for everyone, not only the responsibility of teachers in schools.
"Nature has provided us with the tools we need to teach science, therefore, if someone says that a school lacks practical science-teaching aids, that is just plain nonsense."
Kusmayanto said teaching elementary school students is more difficult than teaching adults. "A great teacher is one who can present something difficult to elementary school students in understandable language."
Winda and Inez, both fifth-graders at SDN 01 Menteng state elementary school, Central Jakarta, said they enjoyed learning science because their teacher presented the subject in a fun way.
Yohanes Surya of Surya Institute said many teachers use correct methods when teaching the subject of science. "The problem lies in the content of their teaching, whether they really understand the material themselves."
In light of this, Yohanes has enlisted 1,000 scientists from the National Institute of Science and universities to conduct one-day science workshops in elementary schools, to help students learn more about the subject. Yohanes hopes teachers will also benefit from the visiting scientists, by learning new teaching methods and ways to implement them.