Nature is all around us. It is the air, the ground, the food we eat and the water we drink. In all scales of human endeavor, nature can be an inspiration for design. After all, nature has been experimenting and learning for billions of years more than humans. Watch Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds. In a minute you w ill put human time on earth in perspective and understand why nature is such an experienced teacher! Biomimicry is a new field of study that looks at nature and her best ideas, then imitates those designs and processes to solve human problems. The word bio means life, and mimicry means to imitate. It is sometimes referred to as innovation inspired by nature. Nature has had billions of years to experiment, innovate and evolve. It offers infinite opportunities to learn form, function, scale, durability and resilience. Today, Biomimicry looks at naturally occurring phenomena in order to develop sustainable technologies. Biomimicry studies nature patterns and systems to inform human creation and production.
We are nature, too!
Activity 1 – Nature and people
Think about how long nature has been here. Think about how long it took to evolve plants and animals. Make a 60 second clock that shows nature’s evolution. Show what occurred in each five second period. In the last fifteen second period you will need a lot of room to add notes!!!!! Submit a History of Life clock to the gallery! Think about human evolution- when we came into the big picture and and where we are know. You are part of this picture. What will YOU do? What will you contribute?
Activity 2 – Shelter by Nature
Working in a group or by yourself, look at different ways nature can be a tool to design a roof over your head. All of nature’s creatures, large and small, create habitation, or homes in which to survive and thrive. What can we learn from insects, marine animals, and mammals? Find three pictures of habitats - one form an insect, one form a marine animal, and one from a mammal. Use a word web to describe each of their habitats. Describe what alterations they make to respond to climate and predators. Take what you have learned and envision three different types of abodes, or homes for humans based on your findings. Think about how these habitats protect and shelter their inhabitants. Can we create new homes for people that learn from nature’s constructions.Consider making a digital presentation of your research and ideas, writing a paper or making models. Talk about or share your ideas with classmates on how your images can be turned into a house or home.
Be a biomimetic innovator!
Activity 3 – Recycle to Imitate Nature
Nature disposes of its waste in creative ways. It returns its material back into a renewing cycle. Humans for centuries have left behind them junkyards full of their waste. If we look to biomimicry, we will learn ways we can be responsible for our waste and reuse it in creative and new ways. For instance, create a Metal Dump for your community. Share the news by pinning up posters and distributing fliers. Ask your neighbors, friends and family to help collect metal recyclables, old hardware and metal junk. Collect these items in a safe and accessible location. Set a date for your community to gather the material. Organize how you will reuse these discards or redistribute the materials. Objects can be linked together or taken apart to imitate nature in sculpture! Objects can be recycled to create new objects.
Copy Nature! Make waste part of a renewable cycle!
Activity 4 – Awakening the Senses
You can feel nature by using your senses. Step outside and spend a moment just being quiet. Turn around with your eyes closed and then pay attention to what you hear, smell, the way the air feels against your skin, the direction it is blowing from, where you feel it on your body and where you don’t. Can you tell what time it is without looking at your watch? Can you predict the weather later in the day by looking at signs in the sky? Can you tell how far into a season you are by the color and condition of plants around you? What signs have you been missing from nature? Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors. How much time are you outside each day? How much time does this add up to in one week? If we are not outside, how can we experience nature? How can we learn from nature? For one week, keep a nature log. Each day take notes about how long you were outside. Make a list of the senses you used while being outside. Make a list of things that you saw, heard, smelled, felt and experienced. Make a list of ways you can look closer at nature. Then make a list of nature’s verbs that are processes that you can assimilate. Think about how you breathe, drink, grow, move, prosper! Increase the amount of time and the range of activities that you do outside.
Activity 5 – Finding Thinking Objects
You can explore biomimicry in your back yard, a park, an urban street bustling with people, or even on a rooftop with little bugs. Walk outside. Choose an object in nature, sketch it in your sketchbook. Start a collection of natural objects in a little box. Speculate about what functions you think your objects serve or are being served in the cycle of life. The functions that you have searched by nature don’t have to be instantly feasible ideas—the point is to just get you thinking about the possibility of looking to nature for ideas for solving human challenges. What challenge might it be solving by having that shape, structure, behavior, etc.? How can nature help us solve human problems? Energy? Solid waste? What would you like to design, and how might nature inspire you with new ideas about how to do this? Why might nature be a good source to go to in order to find design solutions for these challenges?
Activity 6 – Learn More!
Stay current with innovations, events, media and the general buzz currently happening around Biomimicry. Start a Science in the News Club that organizes students to look into current events that are learning from nature and making biomimetic innovations. Start a school bulletin board that posts ‘Learning From Nature’ stories and current events. Hold a “table talk” to discuss the recent news you’ve learned. Set up a Google Alter for Biomimicry. Blog about it and share with your friends and family.
Be part of the Bionaissance!
- Where does Biomimicry come from?
- What is Biomimicry?
- We can learn from nature to help solve our problems.
- How would you improve energy efficiency of cars, buses and planes?
- How could you create color without toxic pigments and dyes?
- BEN Bimimicry Educators Network
- BEN Biomimicry Blog
- Bio Dream Machine
- Biomimicry 3.8 Ask Nature
- Biomimicry Guild
- Biomimicry Institute
- Biomimicry Student Design Challenge
- Biophelic Design
- Ecologic Studio
- E.O. Wilson: Biophelia
- EPA Environmental Dataset Gateway
- Exploring Nature Seed Dispersal Adaptation
- Janine Benyus
- Learning From Leonardo, Fritjof Capra
- TEDed: Thomas Heatherwick Bio Inspired Design
- TED Talk Michael Pawlyn: USing Nature's Genius in Architecture
- The Wyss Institute: Biologically Inspired Engineering
- Thomas Heatherwick Bio Inspired Design
- Video: Discovery World Biomimicry
- Video: Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds
- Video: Nature Design - from Inspiration to Innovation
- Video: TED Talk: Janine Benyus + Nature's Designs T
- Zygote Quarterly: Online Biomimicry Magazine