We often forget we live in a world brimming with ingenious and astonishingly capable invention. Rigid trees survive hurricane-force winds, glue-less geckos scale sheer walls, and hummingbirds zip hundreds of miles on a single, thimble-sized drop of flower nectar. One need not go far to notice Nature’s remarkable talents. Nature plays an enormously influential role in the character of the modern world and today, the tradition of looking to Nature for innovative technological ideas is in its golden era, having grown into a practice regularly used by professional engineers, architects, and designers of all kinds, and referred to as “bio-inspiration”, “biomimicry”, or “biomimetics”. Nature-inspired approaches to engineering and design are now taught in colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering, the Center for Biologically Inspired Design at George Tech, Caltech’s Center for Bioinspired Engineering, and Oxford University’s Program on Bio-Inspired Quantum.
The upper elementary kit version of Engineering Inspired by Nature is a 2-3 week unit (10-15 hours) introducing 3rd-6th grade students (ages 8-13) to engineering through the ingeniousness of the living world around us. Learn more at www.LearningWithNature.org.
Chameleon photo by: Andhra Pradesh, CC BY 2.0