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Discovery of Design Review by Dawn Huffmaster

By Donald DeYoung and Derrik Hobbs
Master Books
PO Box 726
Green Forest, AR 72638

Discovery of Design: Searching Out the Creator's Secrets is a book by Donald DeYoung and Derrik Hobbs that explains in detail how the fields of science and engineering have taken or could take elements from our natural world and turn them into extraordinary scientific and sociological breakthroughs that benefit many areas of our lives. The authors share how items such as hearing aids, robotics, computer memory, prosthetic hands, medications, and even food packaging, to name just a few, come to be by first taking a closer look at God's natural creation. This book is arranged by category and includes brief but concise two-page overviews of 79 different items connected to designs in nature. Each overview ends with references for further reading as well as questions for further study. In the back of the book, you will find answers to the study questions, a glossary, and an extensive index.

Discovery of Design is for anyone interested in learning more about the world around them. It begins with an introduction on biomimicry, which is the use of ideas from nature to develop new products and solve problems, and presents two major explanations for why biomimicry works. One explanation is evolutionary change whereby the best features of an organism are preserved and studied, but the authors state that DNA blueprint of an organism does not change; so that theory is flawed. The other explanation for success in biomimicry is that the design ideas found in nature have been present from the beginning of time. To understand nature, one has to study the blueprints! Finally, the introduction leaves us with the historical definition of science: "the search for knowledge and truth about the physical world, wherever this may lead." As science studies nature, science points to a creator.

Our family intended to use Discovery of Design as a group supplemental science study, but after going through a couple of the topics, we put our regular science curriculum aside. Discovery of Design could also be used as an independent study by those with good reading ability. We reviewed the book in its entirety, but with so many topics to discuss, I picked just a couple to highlight. We were amazed to find that the nest of the paper wasp led to the process of making all the different types of paper used today. For centuries, paper came from cotton and linen rags. Both were expensive and not readily available. In 1719, a French scientist noted that paper wasps created their parchment-like nests using plant matter and not the expensive items humans were using. Today we make paper from plant matter, specifically through a separation and mixture process that creates wood pulp. Another topic we found equally amazing was the internal heat-regulating mechanism of the skunk cabbage. That variety of cabbage (as well as several hundred other species of plants) is able to generate "body heat" similar to that of warm-blooded animals. This mechanism allows plants in cold climates to bloom despite the weather conditions! The chemical reaction that takes place in those types of plants could be used as a basis in redesigning heat and air-conditioning thermostats so that they use chemical compounds to regulate the temperature versus mechanical parts that break and need repair.

There are 77 topics more topics to learn about, and honestly, we enjoyed them all! Because the individual sections are short and make the biological connections almost immediately, you can move along as quickly as you would like or take more time for discussion if you choose to. Taking into consideration all the information the book contains, the price of $12.99 is affordable for most families. Bottom line, Discover of Design is a well-researched and fascinating book, and I absolutely recommend it.

Product review by Dawn Huffmaster, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010