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Larry Verstraete

Toronto, Scholastic-TAB, 1989. 128pp, paper, $3.95
ISBN 0-590-71889-4. CIP

Grades 5 to 8/Ages 10 to 13
Reviewed by Joanne Robertson.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Observation and experimentation have their roles in scientists' work, but in The Serendipity Effect, Larry Verstraete also draws the reader's attention to the role serendipity plays in science. He defines serendipity as "the ability to make unexpected discoveries by accident." Its importance is shown in the development of products as diverse as acetylene, potato chips, safety glass and tea bags.

Some of the stories are familiar ones: Fleming's discovery of penicillin. Bell's invention of the telephone, Edison's phonograph. Other stories are less familiar: the Kellogg brothers' discovery of how to make cereal flakes, Spilsbury's invention of the jigsaw puzzle, and Beaumont's experiments in digestion.

Forty-eight scientific discoveries and inventions are discussed in concise two-or three-page chapters. The scientist's name and the year of his breakthrough are also given. The vocabulary and the length of each chapter are suited to the projected audience. The table of contents, as well as the index, will help the reader locate information. A bibliography is also provided.

The Serendipity Effect will benefit the student with an interest in science, as well as the young trivia buff.

Joanne Robertson, Winnipeg, Man.
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