Reviewed by Marilyn Cook
Have you ever had a "brain itch"? Think of the example of Francis Crick, who had "one of the world's most ground breaking flash revelations: the structure of the DNA molecule." An "Aha" moment may not involve science but using your brain in such a way as to get to a "breakthrough" of your own in your specific area. Reading this book brings to mind brain power and how to make the most of it. As a reader who works with science and children as well as art with children, this book celebrates both art, science, and the "art" of science.
Here is an example of how visual thinking strategies can be used. The author describes a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who was interested in improving the observational skills of new doctors. He had been trained in a different profession before entering medicine so he brought to the table a different perspective and used that to further his problem solving of the observational skills issue. The author calls this "a cross–fertilization factor" which appears throughout this book.
Pasteur said in a lecture that "Chance favors only the prepared mind." Creative entrepreneurs nurture a thinking habit of mind that enables them to be on the lookout for ways to solve problems with usually a flash of insight, of "inspirational brilliance", or, as the author calls it, a "snap." She writes that those people have no better memory or cognitive skills but they cultivate and nurture an attitude of always looking, scanning and that they want that moment of insight.
Examples throughout include Berners-Lee's work writing HTTP and designing a way to give documents Internet addresses, Mullis' work to get at a "pure DNA fragment", and even Wilbur and Orville Wright making aviation history. Ending with a chapter called "Snaps on Demand" the author offers some hope for the rest of us! Adults can encourage snapping by priming our brains and help children do the same with exercises in creativity that can lead to more perspectives. Three things to do and teach: scan for opportunities to learn, sift through what you are thinking, and solve the problem in an innovative way! Sounds like fun to me!
Each chapter ends with key points and the book contains a glossary, index, and detailed notes in an annotated bibliographic form for each chapter. I would use this book as personal reading to help my use of inquiry in teaching as well as have this book on hand for secondary and post secondary students to use when researching scientific breakthroughs. The book would be a good companion to a science text or etext so that the thinking process behind experimentation could be explored.
Review posted on 4/16/2012