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Tinkering Brings Innovation

Philadelphia (CBS) -- Most of us have seen the colorful doormats made from rubber sandals-- developed by putting together odd and unpredictable substances. Author Steven Johnson refers to such an idea in an essay titled "The Genius of the Tinkerer" in The Wall Street Journal, with the subtitle, "The Secret of Innovation is Combining Odds and Ends."

For example Johannes Gutenberg took the technology of the screw press designed for making wine, and reconfigured it into the printing press. Design That Matters created an incubator with "automotive guts." Sealed beam headlights supplied the crucial warmth, dashboard fans provided filtered air circulation, and door chimes sounded alarms.

A critical moment on the Apollo 13 mission was a threat of poisoned air in the lunar module. With a pile of gear thrown on the table, the astronauts concocted a gizmo that saved their lives.

In this age of testing kids to gauge achievement, it's good to remember that part of education is letting them explore and create. They are tinkerers by nature and their imaginations can soar.

Check out Johnson's books.

Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio

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