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She calls these people “visual thinkers” – the kind of students who, as children, are usually good at art and building things. And they’re in good company in the world of science, she says, mentioning Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Jane Goodall. They tend to be good at designing experiments and intricate lab equipment – and science desperately needs them, she says. But unfortunately, they’re not making it in the science curriculum.

“They’re getting screened out with all the rigid math requirements,” she says, mentioning the challenge posed by abstract mathematics like algebra.

“We need the visual thinkers,” she proclaims, speaking in the same strong voice at the dinner table as in her classroom. “We need them to prevent accidents like Fukushima. … They put the emergency cooling pump and its generators in a non-waterproof basement. The abstract mathematician mind doesn’t see the water seeping into the basement and flooding all the electrical equipment. I’m not talking nuclear science here; I’m talking, electrical stuff doesn’t run underwater – period.”

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