Amazing Kids! Magazine

Issue #26 – Professor Jacob Chacko, Cochin University of Science and Technology, India

Interviewed by: Linda Toch, age 10, CA, Amazing Kids! eZine Reviewer

AK: What is chemical oceanography?

JC: Chemical Oceanography is the study of properties and interactions of the chemical make up of the oceans. Any element that you would expect to find on land could be expected to be found in the oceans as well, although in varying degrees of concentrations. Besides, the oceans represent an ecosystem where plants and animals live in co-existence, perhaps quite alien to mankind.

AK: How much emphasis is placed on science and math in Indian Schools?

JC: Science and Mathematics are taught from Class One in all schools and this helps to build a very good foundation in the young minds.

AK: Why do you think the field of science is so important for kids to study?

JC: Science could be thought of as the hinge of life. Simple facts and realities of life that we come across every single day could be appreciated with much better ease and appeal if one is able to grasp the fundamental principles that govern them. e.g., how does milk turn into curd? Or, why does the inner surface of a cut apple turn brown?

AK: Do you have a certain method to use when teaching?

JC: Yes. I try to explain matters with examples that are easily understood. e.g., single occupancy of available empty orbitals by electrons is grasped much better when it is likened to the inherent urge in every child to occupy available empty side-seats in a bus/coach.

AK: How do India and America differ in the way science is taught in each country?

JC: In India, science is often taught in relation to what is seen and experienced in day-to-day life.

AK: Why is science so important in India?

JC: India has a history steeped in advances in science. Albert Einstein said: We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made. India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. The World’s first university was established in Takshashila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India. The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th century in the field of education.

AK: Did you have a mentor? If so, who and how did she/he help you in pursuit of your science career?

JC: Yes. My beloved, gifted teachers. They explained the principles of chemistry with such wondrous lucidity, in such an appealing manner that it kindled a desire to pursue the study of chemical sciences.

AK: If a student is interested in science, what advice would you give them?

JC: He must be prepared to accept his mistakes. He must keep asking why and why not until he has got it perfectly right. Comprehension should never be compromised.

AK: What kind of careers are available to scientists in Chemical Oceanography?

JC: Chemical Oceanographers find gainful careers in ocean research, water quality laboratories, environmental impact analyses, and pollution assessment/control, to mention a few.

AK: What do you think are the most important traits a scientist should have?

JC: A creative bend of mind, analytical precision, unwavering determination and perseverance.