Creativity, Innovation and Chemistry Sets
Posted by Plish on August 4, 2012
I fondly remember my chemistry set. Actually I had a couple of different types of sets, one was chemistry based, another was geology based and the third had a biological theme. Nevertheless, my memories go back to my chemistry set and the wonders of phenolphthalein solution. Changing solutions from pink to clear and back again, it was magical.
I performed countless other experiments but in particular, I remember my attempt at re-creating a mini-scale ‘Hindenburg’ in my garage. It created a glorious flame but since the shell was a rubber balloon, it took less than a second and it was gone…
I came across this article bemoaning the disappearance of chemistry sets - something I’ve often personally pondered as well while walking down the aisles of hobby stores. As the article points out, chemistry sets are about more than chemistry.
Chemistry sets promote behaviors that are key to creative thinking, key to innovating.
- Combination is king – By combining two or more things we create something brand new.
- Experimentation is queen – What if I try mixing that with this, what will happen? What if I change the ratio, will it still work?
- Getting beyond the failure – Sometimes experiments don’t give the results we expected. What went wrong?
- Actions in science have consequences – Yes, even with chemistry sets people can get hurt and property damaged. Think and be safe!
- It’s nothing if it’s not fun – This is obvious but often ignored.
I sometimes wonder if there is a correlation between lack of chemistry sets and the seeming decline in innovative thinking in the US.
What do you think?