I always ask students in my classes to solve a thought problem to point out the need to keep a whole mind focused on learning science. Here's the problem:
Visualize three books sitting on a shelf. They are placed normally for English language books, as if on a library shelf (no tricks are intended in the positioning of the books). A magical bookworm starts on page one of the first book and chews its way to the last page of the third book. If each book has 2 inches of pages and each cover of each book is 1/6th of an inch thick, how many inches does the bookworm chew through?
This is a magical bookworm because it is a singularity. That might provide one clue to the solution to this riddle, but I must emphasize:
The trick to this puzzle is not in the math. The math is easy. The trick is in the visualization!
I give this problem at the beginning of my classes to point out how easy it is to get distracted by biases that cause us to categorize problems, thus preventing us from searching for novel solutions. New discoveries in science require us to do just this, find a new perspective on a group of observations so as to find the insight that leads to discovery.
If all we do is teach the lore of science and not the skills of problem solving, then science is dead in our culture. Certainly, our future scientists and engineers need to master more and more knowledge to approach the precipice of discovery, but how do you know to leap when you get there if you've never dared to before?
I know that my education has prepared me well, not because of the knowledge I've accumulated, but for the skills to continue acquiring knowledge both through studiousness and perspicacity. I'm much prouder of my ability to learn new things than of my acquired knowledge.
And this is what drives scientists. It's not what we know, it's what we don't know. It's what we want to learn.
Science education should instill this drive. With it, knowledge will become a tool, not an end.
So, what's the answer to the riddle? What do you think?