How I Became an Organic Chemist

We were only 20 students, but our science classroom could easily have seated 200. It was on the second floor: a 3 stories high cavernous room, with wide windows that overlooked the school gardens down below. To sit we had benches with tables. Each row was raised a few feet every row so you could not put your head down on the table and fall asleep. And no matter where you sat, all you could see outside was the sky and the tops of the trees waving gently with the breeze. Not that we could feel the breeze – there was not even much light coming through those windows. It was so inappropriate as a classroom that eventually it got remodeled into the school library that became a showpiece for our school.

But for me it was the laboratory where I came to love science.

“You can sit in the back if you want but I am going to do an experiment that will last 2 weeks. You have to do what I do and if you cant see from way back there that is not my problem. You just get an F.”

I gave up my back bench seat to come sit in front. The front row was long enough to accommodate all of us and Mr. Sharma waited till we all moved forward. He was most creative – he always came up with some reason but this time I did not complain.

It was biology term and the first 15 minutes of the 1 hour class were devoted to the experiment. We were each given a graduated glass cylinder, thick blotting paper, water, 5 Garbanzo beans, string and a pencil stub.

We created an insert for the cylinder with the paper so it could sit flush against the glass, half filled the jar with water and put the seeds at various levels so they were anchored by the insert or string. We could put then facing up or down or sideways, all the way up or all the way down or spread out all over the height of the glass jar. We learned about osmosis as water seeped up and some of us marked the level each day to calculate the rate of seepage; eventually making a graph.

It took us a few days to set up the experiment. Every day we had to write notes – observations in brief right next to the jar and a we got into the habit of keeping a lab notebook with drawings and detailed conclusions. It was my first experience with developing a theory and research mindset.

On the third day it got interesting – the seeds started to look soft. Eventually you could see through the glass, roots coming out and going down to the water while little green shoots grew up. every day we would rush to class to see what was going on. We righted the ones we had placed upside down and the sideways ones grew anyway. Sometimes we added water, sometimes we moved it to get more light. We learned that the split bean had cotyledons that was the food for the plant as it germinated. We learned about Oxygen, Nitrogen and carbon Dioxide. Photosynthesis.

We named our seeds and some germinated into seedlings.

Later on I learned about covalent bonds, DNA and gene theory. About Nature and Science; how they are one and the same.

But it all started there in that room – a room with no view outside but a full view into my mind: a view that is forever changing and forever the same.

Writing 101 Prompt: Room with a view

Published by neerja2014

aspiring, perspiring, trying: yes. writing: sometimes publishing: tomorrow

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  1. You make school sound awesome. I can hear the pride in your voice as you talk about your education. It’s refreshing to hear šŸ™‚

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