Hispanics In STEM Thinking Creatively
10 Jan, 2013
STEM education is a promising inflection point for the Hispanic experience
Innovation starts with a question, which leads to new innovations and invigorate thinking. Creative thought is the lifeblood of innovation. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education promises to increase student engagement and unlock creative thinking prompting innovation. This is an inflection point for the Hispanic experience.
When I worked for IBM, many of us had a famous “THINK” sign displayed in our labs and offices. It was a motto coined when Thomas Watson Sr. interrupted an uninspiring sales meeting by saying, “The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. We don’t get paid for working with our feet—we get paid for working with our heads.” He then wrote THINK on an easel. The rest is history.
So what are the trademarks of the unique ability to think creatively and be innovative? Does an inspirational formula, drawn from the experiences and lessons of cultural perspectives, exist? Let me share three real-life examples, not exactly all household names; yet, among many of the top STEM thinkers. Each was vexed with starting questions; each utilized his imagination and inherent cultural intelligence for discovering new ideas.
In the 1980s, a theory was developed that a giant asteroid struck Earth killing off the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. The theory’s chief originator was Luis Alvarez, a Noble Prize winning physicist. His colleagues characterized him as the “prize wild idea man” because of the broad range of his activities. His research covered the gamut of high-energy physics including atomic nuclei, light, electrons and radar.
Alvarez actually came upon the asteroid idea when he put his physics expertise to work during an archeological expedition in 1965. A U.S.-Egyptian team was trying to find hidden chambers in the Giza pyramid in Egypt by using subatomic particles to calculate the pyramid’s density. They never found these sequestered chambers.
How did Alvarez become an innovator? Obviously, he was very gifted in being able to bring his expertise in neutron-activation bombardment to develop results that supported this signature extinction theory. From the references I consulted, he credits his father in teaching him how to think as opposed to knowing what to think.