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[Opinion] Student Inventors

Posted August. 02, 2007 03:05,   


As an increasing number of companies enter the energy business, in this era of high-priced energy, some have dubbed the trend as “watt-com,” as in “dot-com.” A watt is a unit of power, named after James Watt, who is renowned for his improvement of the steam engine from reciprocation-based to circulation-based. His contribution was fundamental to the advent of modern society by offering significant coal savings and making it possible to use steam engines in ships and trains.

Invention is the offspring of keen observation and inspiration, but there should be something more: consideration for others. Notes falling from a book of hymns were a surge of inspiration for the inventor of “Post-it notes.” An inventor should have a mindset that wants to make contributions to the better lives for others. An American farmer invented the diadem-shaped bottle cap after getting sick by drinking a poorly-capped bottle of soda. He is living proof of the fact that inventors should be people with humanitarian concerns. So are the young award winners of the 29th National Scientific Invention Contest for Students.

Kim Jin-hoon, a sixth grader at Yigok Elementary School in Gyeonggi, who won the Presidential Award, developed a measuring instrument for assembling parts. His source of inspiration was, he said, his friends who were having difficulties in assembling model airplanes. Goh Gwang-uk, fifth grader at Eulji Elementary School in Seoul, won the Prime-Ministerial Award with his automatic cleaning machine. He made the machine for his mother so she could clean the both panels of double-glass windows. Kim Jeong-un, another fifth grader from Daegu, won the Golden Award with towel holder that prevents the towel from sliding down when wiping hands.

Other award-winning inventions include food tray for the blind, a vending machine from which you can withdraw a cup without bending your back, automatically rolling toilet paper holder, a window system that can satisfy both ventilation and security needs, and egg tray that you can hold vertically without crashing the eggs. We should provide an environment for those award winners so that they can build on their imagination and consideration for others. James Watt had many people who gave him financial support and inspiration for better technology and knowledge. We need to give the same support and care to those students. They are the future of science and technology of Korea.

Huh Moon-myeong, Editorial Writer, angelhuh@donga.com