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An Interview with Dr. Robert Ballard

Homeschool.com just returned from ten fabulous days in Hawaii. While on location on location in Hawaii, we had a chance to go behind the scenes with the world renowned JASON Project, and meet it's founder, Dr. Robert Ballard (the man who found the Titanic).

When Dr. Ballard returned from finding the Titanic, he found his mailbox stuffed with letters from children asking if they could go along with him on his next expedition. So Dr. Ballard created the JASON Project. The JASON Project is science education the way it should be; hands-on, interactive and exciting. This year, JASON XII focused on Hawaii as a "Living Laboratory." (Did you know that 90% of Hawaii's native plants and animals are not found anywhere else in the world?)

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Homeschool.com Interviews Dr. Robert Ballard

HOMESCHOOL.COM: Dr. Ballard, when you were a child, what was your favorite book and why?

DR. BALLARD: When I was about ten years old, my favorite book was, "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea." My hero as a little boy was Captain Nemo. I wanted to be an undersea explorer. Fortunately, when I told my parents, they didn't laugh at me. They actually encouraged me to live my dream. My parents told me, "maybe you need to become an oceanographer if you want to become a Captain Nemo." So I became an oceanographer. Then my parents said, "Maybe you need to become a naval officer," and I did. I used this as my guiding principle, it allowed me to go on and live my dream. I believe all of us have dreams; all of us should try to live our dreams.

HOMESCHOOL.COM: What can parents do to promote their children's love for science and encourage their children to follow their dreams?

DR. BALLARD: I think the key is to NOT force your children to live your dream. I think that the child that does well is the one that lives their dream. To be successful you have to have a passion--you have to have a real hunger--and you can't do it because your mom wants you to do it or your dad wants you to do it. You have to do it because you want to do it. What the parent should do is take that dream and sort of mold it and shape it and provide an avenue for it to express itself. A parent is sort-of a "helping hand," not necessarily the "guiding light." When a child says, "I want to do something," try to say, "Okay, in today's context maybe this is how you could do that." But don't say, "No, no, no, you don't want to do that." Even if it sounds silly, always say, "That's great!" And then try to mold it. I think of children as wonderful pieces of clay. You can sculpt clay, but you can't change it.

HOMESCHOOL.COM: (This question was submitted by Ms. Randall Kanna (11) from
California): When you discovered the Titanic, did you find any skeletons or jewelry?

DR. BALLARD: One interesting thing about the deep sea is that it's 12,000 feet down and skeletons don't survive in the deep ocean. The human bodies naturally fell to the bottom. Just like when someone dies in the woods, animals will find the body and they'll remove the flesh and expose the skeleton. But, the deep sea is under-saturated with calcium carbonate and that's what bones are made of. Bones dissolve very quickly--in just a matter of a few years. What's left behind? Shoes. Deep-sea animals don't eat the shoes. They haven't had long enough to know how to eat the leather, so the shoes are left behind. If you go along the bottom, very sadly, you'll see pairs of shoes that will remind you that it's a very special place. That's why we never took anything. We don't think that we should, because it's a very special place.

To learn more about "The JASON Project" and the volcanoes in Hawaii click here: http://www.jasonproject.org/

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Join Dr. Ballard on his next expedition:
Homeschool.com and the JASON project are now offering the new "JASON At-Home" program for homeschoolers! For more information email us at: [email protected].


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