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Biomimicry in

Youth Education:
A Resource Toolkit for K-12
Educators

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 1

Photo | Will Merydith

Teachers Edition 1.0

WELCOME
Thank you for your interest in sharing biomimicry with your students. The
Biomimicry Institute is pleased to offer this collection of resources for use
by educators working with some of the most creative minds in the world
children and teens.
The resources and information presented in this toolkit have been selected
to assist teachers working with students from kindergarten through high
school. The collection includes quality lesson plans, videos, and more.
Weve included many of our own resources in addition to those created by
others who are as excited about biomimicry as we are. Many of the lessons
are geared toward traditional school settings, but homeschool and informal
educators will find plenty of valuable material as well.
Whether you are new to teaching biomimicry, or have been doing so for
many years, we hope this resource will help you bring bio-inspired lessons
to your students!

Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved


many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals,
plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers.
They have found what works, what is appropriate and
most important, what lasts here on Earth.

If you encounter any broken links, or have suggestions related to


content, please email us at: k12toolkit@biomimicry.org

Janine Benyus

CREDITS/COPYRIGHT | Introductory material and publication design, 2014 Biomimicry Institute. Copyright for
2 K-12
Resource
Toolkit
Biomimicry
the
resources
included
in |this
list are heldInstitute
by their respective creators. Please refer to the individual resources for
further information regarding their terms of use.

Photo | Shutterstock

Biomimicry is an approach to sustainable innovation


that looks to living things (biology) for inspiration. It
is a uniquely interdisciplinary field, bringing together
biologists, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, and
others to solve problems by understanding and applying
strategies from nature.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 3

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank the Kendeda Fund for its generous support of our
biomimicry education projects, including this toolkit.
We are also grateful to the growing community of educators in the Biomimicry
Education Network (ben.biomimicry.net), and to the following individuals who
donated their time to help us review and evaluate the resources offered in this
toolkit. Additional thanks to Dorna Schroeter, for contributing to the essay
Why Teach Biomimicry.





4 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Scott R. Bowler | Science Educator and Curriculum Consultant,


Ask Mr. Science, Portland, OR.
Sue Kezios, PhD | Director of Youth Programs, Watson College of Education,
University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC
Mia Klett | Education Specialist, Pre-K through 2nd grade, San Francisco, CA
Kamelia Miteva | Founder and CEO, Bio Games, Sofia, Bulgaria
Sherry Ritter | Certified Biomimicry Professional, Perpetual Nature
Resources, Stevensville, MT
Dorna Schroeter | Program Coordinator, Center for Environmental
Education, Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational
Services, Yorktown Heights, NY
Hilary Staples | Science Department Chair, San Domenico School, San
Anselmo, CA
Sayuri Yamanaka | Founder and Executive Director, PuntoVerde
Consultores S.C., Austin, TX

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 5

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Welcome
Acknowledgements
Why Teach Biomimicry?
Biomimicry Orientation for Educators
Core Concepts and Teaching Strategies

3
5
8
11
12
15
16
18
20
23

We Are Nature
Biomimicry and Bio-Inspired Design
Function and Strategy
Matters of Scale
Systems and Patterns

Photo | North Cascades National Park

Resources

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28
31
43
53
63
75
81

How to Navigate the Resources


Introduction
Exploring Nature
Case Studies
Function
Pattern
Design Projects

Click on any of the categories above to jump to that section of the toolkit.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 7

All genuine education comes about


through experience.
John Dewey (philosopher)

WHY TEACH BIOMIMICRY?

When it comes to sustainable innovation, we


believe theres no better recipe for success than
studying how life has survived and thrived on
this planet for 3.8 billion years. But can studying
biomimicry deliver success in the classroom as
well? Yes!
Biomimicry offers teachers a compelling way
to engage students of all ages while bridging
the boundaries traditionally found in education,
addressing todays key educational initiatives,
and providing a systems perspective. Lessons
in biomimicry offer true relevancy and promote
environmental and ethical literacy because they
focus on real problems. Biomimicry emphasizes
the value of research and demonstrates that
our knowledge and understanding of science is
changing every day. Through biomimicry, learning
shifts from quick, teacher-provided answers to
more in-depth student-driven research, giving
students the opportunity to shape their own
education. And lessons rooted in the natural
world provide teachers with the perfect excuse to
take the classroom outdoors, further benefiting
their students creativity, focus, and leadership
skills.
From elementary to high school, biomimicry
also provides a plethora of literature for linking
language arts to science and the Common Core
reading standards. The website AskNature is the
worlds most comprehensive web-based catalog
of natures solutions to human challenges. It
is a free resource that provides students with
informational text, graphics that illustrate key
ideas, and credible scientific references.

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It provides an excellent resource for young


people to explore complex ideas and learn how
to effectively communicate them, a key practice
of the Next Generation Science Standards
(NGSS).
Biomimicry is collaborative and brings young
people with completely different interests
together, helping them develop communication
skills essential to their success in a complex world.
Whether they are interested in science, business,
art, fashion, technology, or photography, they can
all find commonality while transforming the way
we as individuals and as a culture view and
value the natural world.
Finally, at a time when the average child spends
up to seven hours a day in front of a screen,
biomimicry provides a critical connection to the
natural world. To paraphrase environmentalist
Baba Dioum, We save the things we love.
Biomimicry provides another opportunity to fall
in love with tree frogs and oceans, burdocks and
savannahs, humpback whales and rainforests.
Biomimicry primes the next generation to care
deeply about and thus care for the natural
systems we all depend on.
Biomimicrys interdisciplinary framework aligns with several key educational initiatives, such as the
Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core, STEM / STEAM, and the Partnership for 21st
Century Skills. Biomimicry lessons help educators teach important skills in:

Engineering and design

Systems literacy

Creative problem solving

Modeling

Critical thinking

Communication

Crosscutting concepts (NGSS)

Research

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 9

BIOMIMICRY ORIENTATION
FOR EDUCATORS
Before introducing biomimicry to your students,
its necessary to have a good grasp on the
content yourself. If you are not already familiar
with the subject matter, here are some resources
that provide a good foundation. The Core
Concepts section that follows will provide added
depth in key subject areas and offer ideas for
sharing biomimicry with your students.

It is also helpful to connect with colleagues


and others who are teaching and practicing
biomimicry. The following groups are a great
place to start:

Biomimicry Networks

Recommended Reading and Viewing

A Biomimicry Primer
Janine Benyus TED talks | 2005, 2009
Dr. Dayna Baumeisters talks | Innotown

2011, Autodesk 2013


Biomimicry: Learning from Nature
(presentation with notes)
Zygote Quarterly, journal edited by
biomimicry educators

Online Courses

Biomimicry for Formal and Informal Youth

10 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Cover of Zygote Quarterly, Issue 01, Spring 2012

Educators (Biomimicry Institute, $65)


Introduction to Biomimicry Foundational
Course (Biomimicry 3.8, $99)

Biomimicry Education Network: The BEN


website offers a resource collection, blog,
and opportunities to connect with other
educators.
Biomimicry Regional Networks: There are
12 affiliated organizations in the Global
Biomimicry Network. Find and connect with
biomimics in your region or get information
about starting your own.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups can be a way to meet


colleagues and follow discussions about
biomimicry. Here are a few of our favorites:
Biomimetics Forum
Biomimicry Education Network
Biomimicry & Innovation
Biomimicry Practitioners Network

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 11

CORE CONCEPTS AND TEACHING STRATEGIES

There are a handful of core concepts that are essential to understanding and
practicing biomimicry. Here we provide an overview and introduction to these
concepts with some suggestions for effectively teaching them. In the resource
section of this toolkit, youll also find a variety of other activities, lessons, and
materials to support your exploration of each concept.

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Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 13

| Core Concepts

To explore and affiliate with life is


a deep and complicated process in
mental development. To an extent
still undervalued in philosophy and
religion, our existence depends on this
propensity, our spirit is woven from
it, hope rises on its currents.
Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia

We Are Nature
A simple concept that underlies biomimicry
is the understanding that humans are part of
nature, as dependent on and interconnected
with natural systems as all other living things.
Although humans have developed a variety of
cultural adaptations that camouflage our kinship
with the rest of life, the truth is our similarities far
outweigh our differences. All organisms acquire
resources, make and break down materials,
process information, reproduce, work in cycles,
and run on sugar, for example.
This is the basis for why biomimicry makes sense:
humans need to do many of the same things that
other organisms do, and are subject to the same
resource limitations and habitat conditions as the
other 8.7 million species on Earth. The more we
understand how our planet-mates have leveraged
the resources and constraints of this place over
billions of years, the better equipped we are to
create technologies and systems that will enable
all life to flourish long into the future.

Suggestions:

14 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Take students outside and encourage their


innate curiosity and affinity for nature.
Incorporate sensory exploration into outdoor
experiences. Ask students to close their eyes
and notice what they can detect about their
surroundings through hearing, touch, and
scent. Can they tell where the sun is? Which
way is the wind blowing? etc. (An example
of this type of exercise is included in the
Biomimicry Week-long Unit for Middle
School.)

Prompt students to make observations


about what humans have in common with
other organisms rather than what makes us
different.

Resources:

Wild Nature Survivor Guy: This delightful


Sesame Street video parodies reality TV
programs and demonstrates how nature is all
around us and we are nature, too.
You Are Stardust: This picture book by
Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim emphasizes
the connections between all life, from the
formation of the universe to the present.
Exploring the Way Life Works: The second
chapter in this popular illustrated science
book by M. Hoagland and B. Dodson focuses
on what all life has in common.
Sharing Nature with Children: This book by
Joseph Cornell is a classic in environmental
education and contains many great nature
observation activities.
Children and Nature Network: This
organization was co-founded by Richard
Louv, the author who introduced the concept
of nature-deficit disorder, and focuses
on reconnecting children, families, and
communities with nature.
We Are Not Alone: This activity prompts
students to consider the ways in which
humans and other organisms solve the same
technological challenges.
Find other relevant resources in the Resources
section Exploring Nature.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 15

Core Concepts |

Biomimicry and Bio-inspired Design

Not everyone agrees on the definitions of all


of these terms, but its generally accepted that
bio-inspired design is a categorical term
that encompasses design and problem-solving
activities, including biomimicry, which use biology
as a resource for solutions.
However, while biomimicry is bio-inspired
design, it is important to note that not all bioinspired design is biomimicry. Biomimicry, as it is
approached by the Institute, holds sustainability
as an explicit goal and focuses on the creation
of designs that are well-adapted to our planet.
Biomimics ask not just How can nature help us
create better things?, but also How can our
technologies and designs function as sustainably
as the rest of life on Earth? This is an aspirational
goal, but certainly one worth pursuing!

Suggestions:

Engage students in critical thinking exercises


on the sustainability and ethical implications
of various bio-inspired technologies.
Ask students if they can identify whether a
technology or design has a sustainability
win that is, an advantage that makes it
more sustainable than previous technologies
or designs.
Ask students if they can think of ways that
a bio-inspired design could be made more
biomimetic, or more sustainable. Can they

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identify an organism or ecosystem that would


be a good model?

Resources:

A Biomimicry Primer: The last page of the


Primer is titled Bio What? and provides
examples comparing biomimicry to bioutilization and bio-assisted technologies with
well-adapted and mal-adapted examples of
each.
The Guardian, Trying To Unravel The
Secret of Spider Silk: This article and
video can be the start for a class discussion
about the difference between biomimicry
(mimicking the chemical recipe and the
spiders method for producing the silk) and
bio-utilization (genetically engineering a goat
to create the silk or having bacteria do it).
Treehugger, 14 Best Inventions Using
Biomimicry: This set of 14 case studies
explores both bio-inspired and biomimetic
designs. It provides a good start for
discussing the difference and thinking
critically about whether the results of these
approaches are more sustainable than
previous designs. Videos accompany many of
the examples.

Some people suggest that biomimicry should


include all of nature, including abiotic or nonliving things. While we recognize that nature does
include water, stars, air, and rocks, the important
lessons for surviving and thriving on Earth are
found by studying how living organisms interact
with their environment.

Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, defines biomimicry as: The conscious
emulation of lifes genius. Lets unpack that statement:

Conscious - Biomimicry is intentional, actively seeking natures advice to inform design.


Emulation - Biomimicry is learning from biological principles (rather than directly copying
or using organisms to do the work), then taking those principles and applying them to the
challenges humans want to solve.
Lifes genius- Biomimicry recognizes that life has arrived at well-adapted solutions that have
stood the test of time, within the constraints of our planets finite resources.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 17

Photo | Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine

Bio-inspired design, biomimicry, biomimetics,


bioengineering, bionics, biodesign, bioutilization... What do these terms mean? How are
they similar to or different from each other?

Core Concepts |

| Core Concepts

Function and Strategy


The key concept that links biology to human
technological challenges is function. For example,
a bear must climb trees without its claws breaking.
Similarly, a bulldozer must move earth without
damaging its scoop. Both the bear and the
bulldozer must protect their parts from damage
during use.
In order for students to use biomimicry, they
need to understand the concept of function as
it relates to both biology and design and why it
joins biology and design together. The reason is
simple: function is what biology and design have
in common. Once a student can identify functions
being served by biological elements (e.g.,
insulation by polar bear fur), they can begin to
relate biological solutions to human technological
challenges (e.g., insulation in buildings).
While function refers to the purpose or activity
of a thing (the why), strategies refer to how
a function is accomplished. A strategy is a
characteristic, mechanism, or process that meets
a particular purpose or helps accomplish a given
activity. In the example above, polar bears use
the strategy of fur to accomplish the function of
insulation.
In biology, adaptations are closely related to
strategies; they are strategies that have evolved
over time in response to conditions in an
organisms environment. For example, the trunks
of whitebark pine trees grow in a spiraling pattern
as an adaptation (strategy) to withstand the forces
of wind and snow (function) in its high alpine
habitat.

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In biology, functions describe what
characteristics or processes do or how they
perform within the context of natural selection.
Biological strategies refer to characteristics,
mechanisms, or processes that help an organism
accomplish a particular function and survive.

Suggestions:

Build nature observation sensibilities in your


students; take them outside and get them
to look closely and notice the features and
behaviors of different organisms.
Help students look at the natural world in
terms of how it functions; have them form
questions and suggest their own answers for
what the strategies they observe might be
doing for the organism.
Prompt students to make the connection
between biological function and possible
technological applications.

The Biomimicry Taxonomy: The Taxonomy


is an organized list of functions found in
biology that humans also seek to perform. It
is a helpful reference to use when planning
activities based on function, or when older
students are working on a design challenge.
Five-Minute Field Trips: This resource
provides many classic nature observation
exercises that can be adapted for a wide
range of students. For example, the Nature
Trust Walk is a favorite that is used regularly
in workshops with adult professionals.
Find other relevant resources in the Resources
section Function.

Resources:

AskNature is the Institutes online database


of biological information organized by
function. In addition to a searchable database,
AskNature includes a variety of featured
strategy sets (e.g., how nature cools), which
can be useful for helping students understand
the concept of function and how organisms
and ecosystems can accomplish the same
function in many ways using different
strategies.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 19

Core Concepts |

Matters of Scale
For older or more advanced learners, scale is
a concept that can help students understand,
apply, and describe biomimicry. When you look at
biological strategies or at the various examples of
biomimicry, they tend to fall into one or more of
these three scales: forms, processes, and systems.
Most biomimicry case studies describe
biomimicry of form or process. Of course, the
ideal biomimetic design would work at all three
scales, but these examples are still hard to come
by due to the complex nature of systems. Humans
still have a lot to learn about how natural systems
function and how to mimic them.
In a more literal sense, scale can also refer to
the relative size of organisms, physical parts, or
other components of biological strategy. Some
strategies only work at one scale and cannot
be scaled up. For example, the gecko has
millions of microscopic hairs on its toe pads,
which allow it to stick to and climb up vertical
surfaces by leveraging molecular forces. Because
molecular forces only work at the molecular
scale, larger hairs will not produce the same
effect. This is important to understand because
it can be very tempting to translate design ideas
between scales, but one must do so with a
careful understanding of the science behind the
phenomenon at play.

Biomimicry of form is emulation of shape. It could be emulating the microstructure of a surface,


such as a lotus leaf, or a larger physical trait that can be observed with the naked eye, such as the
kingfishers beak.
Biomimicry of process is the emulation of a series of operations or behaviors that create a
material or produce an effect. Scientists that mimic the way an abalone self-assembles the durable
nacre (mother-of-pearl) lining of its shell are emulating a process; so are computer scientists who
create algorithms (step-by-step procedures for calculations) based on the way flocking birds or
swarming bees coordinate their movements as a group.
Biomimicry of Systems involves creating an integrated system that efficiently manages material
and/or energy in an ongoing cycle the way natural systems do. Systems are about relationships and
are usually made up of many forms and processes working together. Zero waste-, or closed-loop-,
production practices like the ZERI coffee farming system are mimicking nature at the system level. In
order for our industrial systems to be truly biomimetic, we will need to use or create materials that can
easily and efficiently be re-used, recycled, and upcycled into other products.

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Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 21

| Core Concepts

Systems and Patterns


The ability to think in systems and identify patterns is a valuable skill in any
discipline and biomimicry is no different. These concepts help students
understand the complexity of our world, recognize meaningful relationships,
and conceptualize biomimetic solutions.
A system is a group of related elements forming a complex whole. Our world
is connected by systemsfrom ecosystems in nature to organizations in human
society. As John Muir famously wrote, When we try to pick out anything by
itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. In order to build
good problem solving skills, students need to be able to understand systems
and how the parts and pieces that comprise a whole interact with and impact
each other. Biomimics (and systems thinkers) see the big picture. They see
the relationships between those parts and piecesthe connections that create
the whole.
Patterns are related to systems, because repeating elements often indicate
an underlying relationship. Patterns are everywhere in nature, at every scale.
Patterns in nature are often an indication of strategies that are incredibly
effective and can be a great starting place for biomimetic emulation. Being
able to identify patterns is a particularly important skill in science and
engineering. Researching patterns in nature can lead to breakthroughs in
science and improved designs in engineering.

Linda Booth Sweeney, a well-

regarded systems educator,


has pointed out that children
intuitively grasp the concept of
a system.

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Great examples of designs emulating successful natural patterns can be found


in the work of PAX Scientific. PAX is a fluid dynamics research and design
firm, led by Jay Harman, which has developed several biomimetic inventions
based on the three-dimensional spiral patterns that are ubiquitous in nature.
As a child in Western Australia, Harman noticed that fragile seaweed survived
storms by twisting into a spiral to let water flow through. Later in life he
realized that the most efficient way to move matter and energy seems to be
not in a straight line, but rather a curve. PAX products dramatically improve
the performance and efficiency of fluid-handling devices (fans, mixers, pumps,
turbines, propellers) because they recreate the curved geometry of optimal
flow in nature.
Photo | Shutterstock

I put up a picture of
a cow and ask, If you
cut a cow in half, do
you get two cows?
Even four-year-olds
will shout out, No
way! They understand
the cow has parts that
belong together. They
have to be arranged in
a certain way to live.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 23

Core Concepts |

Ask students to group and identify patterns


from among objects of different colors and
shapes, or clippings from a magazine, or
within their physical movements.
Encourage students to identify patterns in
nature or in a school garden. Patterns might
involve size, shape, color, sound, branching,
arrangement, and so on.
Have students throw a shoe into the center of
the room. How can students begin to classify
the shoes and create order out of chaos?
Engage students in conversations about the
relationship between things, not just the
qualities of things themselves.
Discuss cause and effect relationships.
During a design challenge, ask students to
identify the resource flows that impact their
design. Where do the energy and materials
needed come from? Where do they go? What
is the product life cycle?

Resources:

Learning to Connect the Dots: Developing


Childrens Systems Literacy: In this article,
educator and writer Linda Booth Sweeney
describes why systems literacy matters and
offers several ways that adults can help foster
this skill in children.
Exploring the Way Life Works: The second
chapter in this popular illustrated science
book by M. Hoagland and B. Dodson focuses
on patterns, describing Sixteen Things You
Should Know About Life.

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Nature-Inspired Innovation: Pax Water


Technologies: This case study provides more
detail about PAX technologies.
Biomimicry DesignLens - Lifes Principles:
Page seven of the DesignLens describes six
design lessons from nature based on the
overarching patterns found among species
living on earth. It can be useful as a source
for aspirational ideals as well as an evaluation
tool for older students (grades 9-12) working
on a design challenge.
Next Generation Science Standards:
Appendix G - Crosscutting Concepts: The
Framework for K-12 Science Education,
upon which the NGSS were developed,
identifies seven crosscutting concepts that
bridge disciplinary boundaries in science
and engineering. It helps students deepen
their understanding and develop a coherent
scientifically based view of the world.
Patterns and systems are two of the concepts
mentioned. This appendix offers guiding
principles describing the concepts and
their value as well as student performance
expectations across K-12 grades.
Find other relevant resources in the
Resources section Pattern.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 25

Photo | Christopher Menjou, UnderwaterPlanet.com

Suggestions:

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Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 27

Photo | Jeremy Wilburn

Biomimicry in
Youth Education:
Resources

HOW TO NAVIGATE THE RESOURCES

Resource Type Key


Icon

The resources in this toolkit are organized into six sections, corresponding to
the type of content they offer (see key below). Within each content area, the
resources are further subdivided by grade level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). Because
many resources are appropriate or adaptable for multiple grade levels, this
structure allows you to select the content you want to focus on first, and then
find material suitable for the students you work with.
Some of the resources span content types, and when thats the case weve
listed them in both categories.
If you encounter any broken links, or have suggestions related to content,
please email us at: k12toolkit@biomimicry.org

Content Area Key

Name

Description

Audio & Video

Audio programs, music, and video

Lessons & Activities

Individual lessons and activities

Curricular Unit

Collections of lessons and activities on a theme

Book

Published books

Document

Downloadable diagrams and references

Online Course

Online course

Other Electronic Resources

Websites, online publications, and online slideshows

Name

Qualities

Introduction

Appropriate as a general introduction to the concept of biomimicry.

Exploring Nature

Connecting students with nature, exploring the outdoors, and imparting an


excitement for biology.

Case Studies

Stories and examples of biomimetic products, researchers, and/or designers.

K-2

3-5

Function

How natural strategies perform functions for an organism and how we try to
solve analogous functions in human design.

6-8

HS

Pattern

Patterns in nature, including the properties of systems.

Design Projects

Projects and resources that teach design processes.

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Grade Level
We have subdivided the resources into four grade levels: lower elementary (grades
K-2), upper elementary (3-5), middle school (6-8), and high school. Appropriate grade
levels are highlighted in grey. In this case, the resource would be appropriate for
students in grades 3-5.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 29

Introduction
Appropriate as a general introduction to the
concept of biomimicry.

30 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 31

Resources | Introduction

Dora Lee (M. Thompson, Illustrator) | 2011


Description
K-2

3-5

In this book, astounding facts, easy-to-understand

6-8

HS

nature and examine the human inventions life has

prose, and illustrations highlight the wonders of

$: $18.95

inspired.

Type:

http://www.amazon.com/Biomimicry-Inventions-

(list price)

book

Still from Wild Nature Survivor Guy.

Inspired-Dora-Lee/dp/1554534674/

Biomimicry: Natural Designs


TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2004

Sesame Street: Wild Nature Survivor Guy


Sesame Street | November 2009
Description
K-2

3-5

Jimmy Fallon guest stars as Wild Nature Survivor Guy. Accustomed to living in the wild, he
thinks he needs to survive out on Sesame Street. Elmo and Rosita are confused. Wild Nature

6-8

HS

Survivor Guy isnt in naturehes on Sesame Street! But soon everyone comes to understand that
nature is where everything we use comes from, that nature is all around us, and we are part of

$: Free

nature, too.

Type:
11 min video

Objectives
Identify items humans use that come from nature.
Understand that nature is all around and that humans are part of nature, too.
http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/theshow/episodes/wild-nature-survivor-guy

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In this activity, students learn about biomimicry and how engineers often imitate nature in
the design of innovative new products. They demonstrate their knowledge of biomimicry by

$: Free
Type:
webpage and
download

practicing brainstorming and designing a new product based on what they know about animals
and nature.
Objectives
Define biomimicry.
Explain how engineers use biomimicry to design innovative new products.
List examples of engineered products that were inspired by nature.
Use biomimicry to develop an idea for a new product.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_bio/
cub_bio_lesson05_activity1.xml

Ask the Planet Childrens CD


Biomimicry Institute | 2009
Description
K-2

3-5

Ask the Planet is an award-winning album of childrens music, created to help connect children to

6-8

HS

download or as a physical CD. Free teaching guides are available for each of the 18 tracks, three

$: $14.98 CD /

nature and teach them about the concept of biomimicry. The album may be purchased as an mp3
of which are also available in Spanish.

$9.99 mp3

Type:
18 track album

http://biomimicry.net/asktheplanet

32 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 33

Resources | Introduction

Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by


Nature

Resources | Introduction

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2009

The Kids Science Challenge | 2009

Description

Description

In this activity, students reverse engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products and
discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs.
Objectives

$: Free

Bio-Inspired Design Project: Lesson Collection

Type:

Define biomimicry.

webpage and
download

Explain how engineers use biomimicry to design innovative new products.


List examples of engineered products that were inspired by nature.

K-2

3-5

In conjunction with the 2009 Kids Science Challenge, the organizers created a variety of lessons

6-8

HS

links provided within the lesson plans are now out of date, but educators can still use these plans

for grades 3-12. All of the lessons can still be accessed on the Challenge website. Some of the
as a framework, augmenting the lessons with case studies and other resources from within this

$: Free

toolkit.

Type:

http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_plans_archives.php#bio

word doc

Use biomimicry to develop an idea for a new product.


http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_

Biomimicry: Copying Our Way to Conservation

lifescience/cub_lifescience_lesson03_activity2.xml

Habitat Seven & ConservationBridge.org | August 2011


Description

Overview of Bio-Inspired Design


The Kids Science Challenge | 2010
Description
K-2

3-5

Researchers Robert Full, Richard Fearing, and Chris Viney are featured talking about bio-inspired
design. The screen resolution for this video is limited, so it may be best for individual viewing

6-8
$: Free

HS

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This video introduces the concept of biomimicry with some classic case studies and asks us to
consider the importance of conserving natural systems for what we can learn from them, rather
than what we can extract.

$: Free
Type:
9 min video

https://vimeo.com/27640060

rather than showing in class. Bio-Inspired Design Intro is the first of eight videos on bio-inspired
design found on this website. Navigate through the available videos by using the red arrows.

Type:

3:30 min video http://kidsciencechallenge.com/archiveyeartwo/index.php?linkTo=3a

Biomimicry: Emulating Natures Genius


United Nations University | September 2012
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This article provides a great summary introduction to biomimicry, accompanied by a beautiful


slideshow highlighting five organisms and ways in which humans can mimic their designs.

$: Free
Type: article
and slideshow

34 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/biomimicry-emulating-nature%E2%80%99s-genius/

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 35

Resources | Introduction

Design Inspired by Nature

Resources | Introduction

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2009


Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: Free

This lesson introduces students to the idea of looking to nature for engineering ideas and provides
a few fun examples of useful applications of biomimicry.
Objectives
List products or devices that are based on examples from nature.

Type:
webpage and
download

Explain why engineers might want to copy ideas from nature in their designs.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_lesson.php?url=collection/cub_/lessons/cub_
lifescience/cub_lifescience_lesson03.xml

Biomimicry Week-long Unit for Middle School


Biomimicry Institute | 2009
Description

Sustainability in 7 - Janine Benyus on Biomimicry


Designers Accord | April 2011
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This unit, with an optional climate change case study, teaches middle schoolers about biomimicry
through a powerpoint presentation, outdoor exercises, and the opportunity for students to
explore their own biomimetic solutions. Some of the components in these units could also be

$: Free

used independently, oras a one or two-day introduction to biomimicry.

Type:

Objectives

5-day plan

Define biomimicry and why it is valuable.

Description

Explore natural objects for clues about their function.

In this short video, Janine Benyus talks about how a peacock feather can inform new digital display

Interpret information from organism fact sheets and research findings to create ideas for

screens and how we can use natures polymer architecture to think about new materials.

bio-inspired design solutions.


http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/week-long-units-ms/

$: Free
Type:
2:47 min video

http://vimeo.com/21959315

What is Biomimicry?
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In this short video, Janine Benyus provides a succinct description of what biomimicry is.

$: Free
Type:
2 min video

http://youtu.be/FBUpnG1G4yQ

36 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Photo | North Cascades National Park

Fast Company & Earth Sky | October 2011

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 37

Resources | Introduction

Copycat Engineers

Resources | Introduction

Biomimicry Institute | 2010


Description

TED | 2005
Description

K-2

3-5

Set in the wilds of South Africa, this film follows Janine Benyus and colleagues as they illustrate

6-8

HS

engineers, chemists, architects, and business leaders. Classroom discussion guides are available

$:

$100 university
license
$50 K-12 license
$30 non-profit
license
$15 home
school/individual

Type:

25 min video,
plus discussion
guides

Janine Benyus: Biomimicrys surprising lessons from


natures engineers

how organisms in the natural world can teach us how to be more efficient and sustainable
for upper elementary grades through college. Please purchase an educational license for
classroom use. Tiered pricing is available for K-12 and university settings.
Objectives

K-2

3-5

This is a favorite TED Talk by Janine Benyus, where she uses 12 case studies to discuss the

6-8

HS

and closed captioning in multiple languages.

importance of looking to nature for inspiration in sustainable design. Available with transcripts

$: Free
Type:

23:19 min video

http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html

Identify why biological organisms are a great source of inspiration for human design.
Identify functions and describe the importance of multifunctionality in biology.
Identify biological models that could inspire better building designs in their own

Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in Action

communities.

Describe the relationship between biomimicry and sustainability.

Identify how natures chemistry differs from most human chemistry.

Explain biomimicry in their own words.

http://biomimicry.net/inspiring/secondnature/second-nature-discussion-guides/

TED | 2009
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In this TED Talk, Janine Benyus recommends looking to nature first when solving a design
problem. By looking outside, inventors will find designs for making things waterproof,

$:

aerodynamic, solar powered, and more. She reveals dozens of new products that take their cue
from nature, with spectacular results. Available with transcripts and closed captioning in multiple

Free

languages.

Type:

17:42 min video

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html

The Nature of Things: Biomimicry (Season 42, Ep 5-6)


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | 2003
Description
K-2

3-5

This two-episode feature from the hit CBC television show The Nature of Things is based on

6-8

HS

this field. Part 1 focuses on using natural processes as models for agriculture and business. Part 2

$: FREE

(streaming),
Purchase: $395

Type:
two 50 min
TV episodes

Janine Benyus book. The program introduces several scientists, business people, and authors in
focuses on advances in materials and medicine.
The episodes are currently streaming for free on Hulu.com, or available in hard copy for purchase
from Bullfrog Films.
Part 1: http://www.hulu.com/watch/112599
Part 2: http://www.hulu.com/watch/112601#i0,p0,d0
Purchase at http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/bmic.html

38 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 39

Resources | Introduction

Second Nature: The Biomimicry Evolution

Resources | Introduction

Resources | Introduction

A Biomimicry Primer
Biomimicry 3.8 & Biomimicry Institute | 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

This short essay introduces biomimicry in Janine Benyuss own words. This version includes an

6-8

HS

bio-utilization, and bio-assisted technologies.

appendix, Bio-What?, which explains the important differences between biomimicry,

$: Free
Type: PDF

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/university-curricula/a-biomimicry-primer/

Autodesk: Design Night: Mother Nature - Biomimicry with


Dr. Dayna Baumeister
Autodesk | February 2013
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: Free
Type:
46 min video

Introduction to Biomimicry Foundational Course

Dr. Dayna Baumeister delivers a compelling presentation about how nature can inspire the

Biomimicry 3.8 | 2012

designer in each of us. She starts with a timeline of life on Earth and provides some case studies

Description

from biomimicry. The presentation starts after introductions, at about minute nine, and ends at
about 35 minutes with a question and answer session.
http://youtu.be/edO54Ii3A08

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This interactive online course introduces Biomimicry 3.8s core approach and design tools with
video, voice-over narration, and reading sections. Once the course is completed, students may
download a biomimicry course pack containing recommended resources and course screenshots.
Objectives

$: $99
Type:

Identify the core philosophy and key elements of biomimicry.

3+ hours

Interpret and utilize a biomimicry case study.


Understand the basics of the process for integrating biology into design.
Understand ways to connect with nature and other biomimicry practitioners.
http://biomimicry.net/educating/online-courses/foundational-courses/

Learning from Nature: A Course in Biomimicry


Sustainability Leaders Network | 2013
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curriculum, created by the Sustainability Leaders Network, offers an introduction to


biomimicry and how to learn from nature. With an emphasis on getting outside and exploring, the

$: Free
Type:
12 lessons

curriculum focuses on observing, appreciating, and learning from nature and natural systems in
your region. If you do not want to teach all 12 lessons, the introductory lesson can stand alone.
Objectives
Explain the basics of biomimicry and systems thinking and identify applications.
Recognize, observe, and think creatively about processes, systems, and functions in nature.
Use the biomimicry taxonomy and AskNature.
Develop a nature-inspired solution to a current challenge.
http://www.sustainabilityleadersnetwork.org/2013/03/biomimicry-curriculum/

40 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 41

Exploring Nature

42 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Photo | North Cascades National Park

Connecting students with nature, exploring the


outdoors, and imparting an excitement for biology.

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 43

Resources | Exploring

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Seeing Function

Biomimicry Institute | 2012 - present

Biomimicry Institute | 2008, revised 2013

Description

Description

AskNature Nuggets are an ongoing series of short video segments each focusing on an organism,
its unique strategy, and what we can learn from it.

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This activity is valuable for teaching students how to use senses other than sight to explore
natural artifacts and understand function. Students learn to see function in natural objects by
encountering, describing, and considering natural objects while blindfolded. This activity is a

$: Free

$: Free

fundamental introductory exercise that can be used with almost any age group.

Type: 1-2 min

Type: PDF

Objectives

video

http://www.asknature.org/article/view/nuggets

Recognize that organisms are the way they are (in terms of anatomy, physiology, behavior,
etc.) to achieve many functions.
Explore an organisms form and function in an entirely new way and suspend what is known
about that organism in order to see it with fresh eyes.
http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/function-activities/

Five-Minute Field Trips: Teaching about Nature in your


School Yard
Global, Environmental, and Outdoor Education Council | 2002
Description
K-2

3-5

Building nature observation sensibilities is a fundamental building block for biomimicry. This

6-8

HS

of students. For example, the Nature Trust Walk is a favorite that is used regularly in workshops

$: Free

resource provides many classic nature observation exercises that can be adapted for a wide range
with adult professionals.

Type: PDF
http://www.geoec.org/lessons/5min-fieldtrips.pdf

44 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 45

Resources | Exploring

AskNature Nuggets

Resources | Exploring

Elin Kelsey (S. Kim, Illustrator) | 2012

Joseph Cornell | 1998

Description

Description

This picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around

A classic with many great nature observation activities that can be used with students of all ages.

them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world. The
publisher has also provided a companion app, a lesson plan for K-6, and a Common Core guide

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

3-5

6-8

HS

price)

Type: book

price)

Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature


Dora Lee (M. Thompson, Illustrator) | 2011

Biomimicry Institute | 2009

Description

Description

6-8

3-5
HS

$: $14.98 CD /

Ask the Planet is an award-winning album of childrens music, created to help connect children to

K-2

3-5

nature and teach them about the concept of biomimicry. The album may be purchased as an mp3

6-8

HS

download or as a physical CD. Free teaching guides are available for each of the 18 tracks, three
of which are also available in Spanish.

$9.99 mp3

In this book, astounding facts, easy-to-understand prose, and illustrations highlight the wonders
of nature and examine the human inventions life has inspired.

$: $18.95
(list price)

Type: book

Type:
18 track album

http://www.owlkidsbooks.com/YouAreStardust.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/Sharing-Nature-Children-20th-Anniversary/dp/1883220734/

Ask the Planet Childrens CD

K-2

for reading and writing.

$: $18.95 (list

$: $9.95 (list
Type: book

K-2

http://www.amazon.com/Biomimicry-Inventions-Inspired-Dora-Lee/dp/1554534674/

http://biomimicry.net/asktheplanet

Build octopus chromatophores


Curiosity Machine
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Students will make an expandable pigment sac, inspired by the octopus chromatophores, that
can stretch into as big a shape as possible. Includes a great introductory video on camouflage and

$: Free
Type:
webpage and
7 min video

chromatophores that could be used along with or independently of the activity. For a discussion
of potential applications of the octopus coloration strategy, see also Case Study: Biomimicry and
E-Readers.
Objectives
Describe the function and mechanism of octopus chromatophores.
http://www.curiositymachine.org/index.php?r=activity/view&id=282

46 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 47

Resources | Exploring

Sharing Nature with Children, 20th anniversary edition

You Are Stardust

Resources | Exploring

The Kids Science Challenge & Pulse of the Planet | 2009-2010

The Kids Science Challenge | 2009

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

This collection of 28 two-minute radio segments features scientists talking about bio-inspired

6-8

HS

scroll down to the second topic, Bio-Inspired Design. You can play the audio directly from the

design. The collection appears on a webpage with radio segments for other KSC themes, so
website, or follow the provided links to find the transcripts on the Pulse of the Planet website.

$: Free

Because these are audio only, teachers may want to provide visual images for students to

Type: 28
2 min audio
segments,
and links to
transcripts

Bio-Inspired Design Project: Lesson Collection

reference, or assign students to do further research on their own.

K-2

3-5

In conjunction with the 2009 Kids Science Challenge, the organizers created a variety of lessons

6-8

HS

links provided within the lesson plans are now out of date, but educators can still use these plans

for grades 3-12. All of the lessons can still be accessed on the Challenge website. Some of the
as a framework, augmenting the lessons with case studies and other resources from within this

$: Free

toolkit.

Type:

http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_plans_archives.php#bio

word doc

Note: Please be patient after clicking the link below. The website is data rich and takes time to
load.
www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_audio.php

Do Trees Communicate?
University of British Columbia | 2012
Description

Exploring The Way Life Works


Mahlon Hoagland and Bert Dodson | 2001

K-2

3-5

Description

6-8

HS

ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, mother trees serving as hubs. The

K-2

3-5

This popular science book explores the deep patterns in how life grows, develops, reproduces,
and survives. A true classic for biomimicry educators. While it is now out of print, many used

6-8

HS

Type: 4:41

copies are available for purchase via Amazon. (Note: An earlier edition with virtually identical

min video

$: approx

content was published in 1995 and 1998 as The Way Life Works. Both are excellent.)

Type: book

http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Way-Life-Works-Science/dp/076371688X/

$17.00+ (used;
out of print)

In this video by Dan MacKinney, Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest

$: Free

underground exchange of nutrients increases the survival of younger trees linked into the network
of old trees.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSGPNm3bFmQ

Richard Hammonds Miracles of Nature


BBC | November 2012
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In this series of three one-hour shows (Super-Bodies, Super-Senses, and Super-Powers),


Richard Hammond reveals secret animal abilities from the natural world and discovers how those

$: 10.99
Type:
3, 60 min TV
episodes

same animals have inspired a series of human inventions at the very frontiers of science. Available
for purchase from the BBC.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nvn22
Purchase at: http://www.bbcshop.com/science+nature/richard-hammonds-miracles-of-naturedvd/invt/av3087?

48 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 49

Resources | Exploring

Scientist Audio Programs: Bio-Inspired Design

Resources | Exploring

Science Friday | February 2010

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2011

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

Leaves have an intricate web of veins that transport nutrients and water and provide structural

6-8

HS

Katifori of The Rockefeller University, investigated this question using sophisticated algorithms

support. But what determines the pattern of venation? Physicists Marcelo Magnasco and Eleni
and glow-in-the-dark dye.

$: Free
Type: 5 min
video

Superhydrophobicity - The Lotus Effect

http://www.sciencefriday.com/topics/nature/video/02/12/2010/lighting-up-leaves.html

Learning from Nature: A Course in Biomimicry


Sustainability Leaders Network | 2013

K-2

3-5

In this lesson and related activity, students learn how plants create and use superhydrophobic

6-8

HS

properties of these natural surfaces.

$: Free

surfaces in nature and how engineers have created human-made products that mimic the
Objectives

Type:

Describe situations in which a superhydrophobic lotus-effect surface would be useful.

webpage and
link to activity

Explain the difference between Cassie-Baxter and Wenzel wetting and how it applies to
superhydrophobic surfaces.
Demonstrate the transition between Wenzel and Cassie-Baxter wetting states.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_lesson.php?url=collection/duk_/lessons/duk_
surfacetensionunit_lessons/duk_surfacetensionunit_less4.xml

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curriculum, created by the Sustainability Leaders Network, offers an introduction to


biomimicry and how to learn from nature. With an emphasis on getting outside and exploring, the

$: Free
Type:
12 lessons

curriculum focuses on observing, appreciating, and learning from nature and natural systems in
your region. If you do not want to teach all 12 lessons, the introductory lesson can stand alone.
Objectives
Explain the basics of biomimicry and systems thinking and identify applications.
Recognize, observe, and think creatively about processes, systems, and functions in nature.
Use the biomimicry taxonomy and AskNature.
Develop a nature-inspired solution to a current challenge.
http://www.sustainabilityleadersnetwork.org/2013/03/biomimicry-curriculum/

50 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 51

Resources | Exploring

Lighting Up Leaves

Case Studies
Stories and examples of biomimetic products,
researchers, and/or designers.

52 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 53

Resources | Case Studies

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

AskNature Collection: Managing Energy

InterfaceFLOR | 2012

Biomimicry Institute | 2011

Description

Description

The Biomimicry Institute worked with InterfaceFLOR


on this biomimicry-themed catalog for the classroom
that includes several case studies with large full-color

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: FREE

photos. Bilingual: English and French.

$: FREE

Type:

http://issuu.com/interfaceflor/docs/biomimetic_

Type:

publication

brochure_can

This curated set of products on AskNature highlights biomimetic products and prototypes that
harvest renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.

http://www.asknature.org/collections/product/Managing+Energy#slide_0

slideshow

Trying to Unravel the Secret of Spider Silk


The Guardian | 2012
Description

Mother of Invention

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This video accompanies an article in The Guardian in which Fritz Vollrath, a researcher who studies

6-8

HS

showing the silk glands and their various functions. The article and video could be used to start a

the biology of spider silks, is interviewed. At the end of the article there is a helpful graphic
$: FREE

class discussion about the difference between biomimicry (mimicking the chemical recipe and the

Description

Type: article

spiders method for producing the silk) and bio-utilization (genetically engineering a goat to make

Over two dozen biological strategies are collected in this slideshow, along with great photographs

and 1:25 min


video

silk or growing bacteria to create the silk).

$: FREE
http://www.wildcenter.org/gallery/mother-of-invention#How-the-Genius-of-Nature-Could-

slideshow

3-5

The Wild Center

and examples of applications for each.

Type:

K-2

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/jan/12/fritz-vollrath-spiders-tim-adams

Bio-Inspired Design Project: Lesson Collection


The Kids Science Challenge | 2009

Help-Us-Live-Smarter

Description

Scientist Audio Programs: Bio-Inspired Design


The Kids Science Challenge & Pulse of the Planet | 2009-2010
Description
K-2

3-5

This collection of 28 two-minute radio segments features scientists talking about bio-inspired

6-8

HS

scroll down to the second topic, Bio-Inspired Design. You can play the audio directly from the

$: Free

design. The collection appears on a webpage with radio segments for other KSC themes, so

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In conjunction with the 2009 Kids Science Challenge, the organizers created a variety of lessons
for grades 3-12. All of the lessons can still be accessed on the Challenge website. Some of the

$: Free
Type:
word doc

links provided within the lesson plans are now out of date, but educators can still use these plans
as a framework, augmenting the lessons with case studies and other resources from within this
toolkit.
http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_plans_archives.php#bio

website, or follow the provided links to find the transcripts on the Pulse of the Planet website.
Because these are audio only, teachers may want to provide visual images for students to

Type: 28
2 min audio
segments,
and links to
transcripts

reference, or assign students to do further research on their own.


Note: Please be patient after clicking the link below. The website is data rich and takes time to
load.
www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_audio.php

54 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 55

Resources | Case Studies

Learning from Nature

Resources | Case Studies

Innovators: Designed by Nature (Parts 2 & 3)


Bloomberg TV | April 2010

EarthFix | April 2013


Description
K-2

3-5

What if todays urban landscapes could return to the level of natural efficiency of an evergreen

6-8

HS

Building, the worlds greenest office building.

forest? Thats what the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation is attempting to do with its Living

Description
K-2

3-5

This episode of Innovators features two great case studies about bio-inspired design. Part 2

6-8

HS

an emerging technology that uses CO2 emissions as a raw material for cement.

$: FREE

$: FREE

Type:

Type:

2, 7 min videos

7 min video

http://vimeo.com/64281701#

Jay Harman Uses Natures Spiral to Improve Industrial


Design

K-2
6-8

3-5

Fans use an enormous amount of the worlds electricity. But Jay Harmans spiral-inspired design
works like most of the natural world nearly effortlessly. This short video explains why.

HS

$: FREE
Type:
2 min video

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRHEx_ZDz98
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttf264ltLHw

Bio-Inspiration: Nature as Muse


QUEST | October 2008
Description

EarthSky & Fast Company | December 2011


Description

focuses on how Interface revolutionized the carpet industry with biomimicry, and Part 3 showcases

K-2

3-5

Biologists and engineers at University of California, Berkeley are working together to design a

6-8

HS

run and adhesives based on the design of a geckos foot. QUEST visits with Robert Full to find

broad range of new products, such as life-saving milli-robots modeled on the way cockroaches
$: FREE

out whats so special about these crawling and scaling animals and to learn about the synergy

Type:

between engineering and biology.

11 min video

http://science.kqed.org/quest/video/bio-inspiration-nature-as-muse/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmU0NmIDETI

14 Best Inventions Using Biomimicry


Treehugger | December 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This set of 14 case studies from 2011 explores both bio-inspired and biomimetic designs. It
provides good content for exploring the difference between mimicking form alone and mimicking
process or system, and thinking critically about whether the result is more sustainable than

$: FREE

previous designs. Videos accompany many of the examples.

Type: article

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/14-best-inventions-using-biomimicry-2011.

with videos

html

Biomimicry and e-Readers


Spark/CBC Radio | October 2012
Description
K-2

3-5

Radio host Nora Young speaks with a researcher who is looking to the colorful chameleon and

6-8

HS

Kindle. Because this segment is audio only, teachers may want to provide visual images or product

$: FREE
Type: 7:45
min audio

56 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

the cuttlefish for ideas on how to improve the design of tablet screens used in e-readers like the
samples for students to reference. See also Explore: Build Octopus Chromatophores.
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Spark/ID/2287762548/

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 57

Resources | Case Studies

Seattles Bullitt Center: The Worlds Greenest Office


Building

Resources | Case Studies

Making Stuff Wilder


NOVA | October 2013

Circular Economy 100 Annual Summit | June 2013


Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: FREE

Janine Benyus, speaking at the 2013 Circular Economy 100 Annual Summit, talks about the 3D
printing revolution and how we can rethink the material supply chain in natures image. This video

Description
K-2

3-5

In this episode of NOVAs material science series, host David Pogue explores innovations inspired

6-8

HS

biomimetic but may help start a discussion about the pros and cons of different bio-inspired

would be especially effective for stimulating discussion following a visit to a 3D printing lab or

$: FREE

manufacturing facility.

Type:

technologies.

53 min video

Type:
19 min video

AskNature Collection: Green Chemistry Innovations


Biomimicry Institute | 2012

EarthSky & Fast Company | December 2011


Description
3-5

6-8

HS

The creation of cement is an incredibly polluting process, but Stanford scientist Brent Constanz
has found a way to create cement from CO2 and water in a process inspired by corals.

2 min video

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curated set of products on AskNature showcases how researchers have taken natures lessons
and applied them to create more sustainable chemical products and processes.

$: FREE
Type:

$: FREE
Type:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365080335/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE-2rDZwMXA

Making Cement The Way Coral Does It: Out Of Thin Air

K-2

by the Earths greatest inventor, life itself. Some of the examples in this program arent truly

http://www.asknature.org/collections/product/Green+Chemistry+Innovations#slide_0

slideshow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa96YaJCTVc&feature=plcp

Michael Pawlyn: Using natures genius in architecture


TED | 2010
Description
K-2

3-5

How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? Michael Pawlyn describes patterns in

6-8

HS

drawing energy from the sun.

nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and
$: FREE
Type: 13:46
min video

58 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pawlyn_using_nature_s_genius_in_architecture.html

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 59

Resources | Case Studies

Janine Benyus: The 3D Printing Revolution Explained in 20


Minutes

Resources | Case Studies

Its Only Natural: Exploring Ways in Which Commercial


Products Borrow Designs from Natural Sources
New York Times Learning Network | December 2001
Description
K-2

3-5

In this lesson, which could be used in a language arts class, students research the development of

6-8

HS

then synthesize their understanding by creating and advertising a biomimetic product of their own

a commercial product that imitates nature, perform infomercials describing how they work, and

$: FREE

design. This lesson was created to accompany a New York Times article from 2001 but could be

Type:

used as a framework to analyze a more recent news feature on biomimicry.

webpage

Objectives
Name some examples of biomimicry and describe in detail how at least one product works
and why it is better than conventional solutions.
Practice the creative aspect of biomimicry by proposing imaginary products that mimic
nature.
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2001/12/11/its-only-natural/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_
php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&

The Nature of Things: Biomimicry (Season 42, Ep 5-6)


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | 2003
Description
K-2

3-5

This two-episode feature from the hit CBC television show The Nature of Things is based on

6-8

HS

this field. Part 1 focuses on using natural processes as models for agriculture and business. Part 2

Janine Benyus book. The program introduces several scientists, business people, and authors in
focuses on advances in materials and medicine.

$: FREE

(streaming),
Purchase: $395

Type:
two 50 min TV
episodes

The episodes are currently streaming for free on Hulu.com, or available in hard copy for purchase
from Bullfrog Films.
Part 1: http://www.hulu.com/watch/112599
Part 2: http://www.hulu.com/watch/112601#i0,p0,d0
Purchase at http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/bmic.html

ORNILUX Bird Protection Glass


Biomimicry Institute | Fall 2013
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This case study describes the development of window glass that prevents bird collisions by
mimicking the UV reflective qualities of spiders webs.

$: FREE
Type:
PDF

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/university-curricula/case-study-ornilux/

Ornilux uses a special ultraviolet (UV)-reflective coating that


appears almost transparent to humans, but is clearly visible to birds.
Photo | Ornilux

60 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 61

FUNCTION
How natural strategies perform functions for an
organism and how we try to solve analogous
functions in human design.

62 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 63

Resources | Function

We Are Not Alone

Museum of Science, Boston | 2005-2008, 2010, 2011

Biomimicry Institute | 2008, revised 2013

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

This unit, from the Engineering Is Elementary series, introduces elementary students to

6-8

HS

learn about the function of frog skin, compare and contrast natural objects with technologies that

K-2

3-5

In this exercise, the functions a building must perform are compared to the functions a tree

6-8

HS

same functional challenges we struggle with. This activity could also be combined with outdoor

bioengineering. Science concepts related to organisms basic needs are reinforced as students

$: $50

have similar functions, and engage in an engineering design challenge. Lesson plans and materials

Type:

may be purchased from the Museum of Science. Free videos are available demonstrating the

$: FREE

5 lessons and
videos

curriculum in use in a classroom.

Type: PDF

must perform, demonstrating in the process that the organisms around us have faced the exact
experiences and the song We Are Not Alone from the Ask the Planet CD.
Objectives

Objectives

Describe some of the similarities between the functions trees and buildings perform.
Explain why the natural world is a highly relevant place to look for answers to humanitys
technological challenges.

Distinguish between objects found in the natural world and technologies designed by
humans.

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/we-are-not-alone/

Identify the problem(s) that an object solves.


Match an object found in the natural world to a technology with a similar function.
Recognize the role of bioengineers in designing technologies based on ideas from the natural

AskNature Nuggets

world.

Biomimicry Institute | 2012-present

Identify the basic needs of organisms and explain how different organisms meet those needs.

Description

Recognize that bioengineers look to the natural world to inspire the technologies that they
design.
Implement the steps of the Engineering Design Process.
http://www.eie.org/eie-curriculum/curriculum-units/just-passing-through-designing-modelmembranes

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

AskNature Nuggets are an ongoing series of short video segments that focus on an organism, its
unique strategies, and what we can learn from them.

$: Free
Type: 1-2 min
videos

http://www.asknature.org/article/view/nuggets

Animal Adaptations Resources


TeacherVision | 2000-2014
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

These lesson plans, worksheets, and group activities help students learn about the different
ways in which animals adapt to their environment and respond to predators, seasonal change,
and other threats. (TeacherVision provides free access to eight resources before a subscription is

$: FREE

required.)

Type: PDFs

https://www.teachervision.com/ecological-adaptation/animals/6989.html

64 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 65

Resources | Function

Just Passing Through: Designing Model Membranes

Resources | Function

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: FREE
Type: PDF

Battle of the Beaks

Biomimicry Institute | 2012

University of California Museum of Paleontology | 2003

Description

Description

This outdoor activity is a staple of biomimicry education, useful for all audiences as a starting
exercise in biomimetic thinking and understanding function.
Objectives

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Identify biological functions evident in different organisms.

$: FREE

Relate biological functions to human challenges in design and technology.

Type: PDF

Evolutionary adaptation is an important concept as a foundation to understanding biomimicry. In


this lesson, students learn about adaptive advantage by simulating birds competing for various
foods using beaks that employ differing strategies for feeding.
Objectives
Understand that inherited traits provide adaptive advantage in a competitive environment.

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/hunting-gathering-forideas/

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/lessonsummary.php?&thisaudience=68&resource_id=36

Seeing Function
Biomimicry Institute | 2008, revised 2013
K-2

3-5

Description

Biomimicry Institute | 2008, revised 2013

This activity is valuable for teaching students how to use senses other than sight to explore

Description

natural artifacts and understand function. Students learn to see function in natural objects by
6-8

HS

encountering, describing, and considering natural objects while blindfolded. This activity is a
fundamental introductory exercise that can be used with almost any age group.
Objectives

$: Free
Type: PDF

Velcro Race Game

Recognize that organisms are the way they are (in terms of anatomy, physiology, behavior,
etc.) to achieve many functions.
Explore an organisms form and function in an entirely new way and suspend what is known
about that organism in order to see it with fresh eyes.

K-2

3-5

This game is designed to introduce students to biomimicry and develop critical thinking skills

6-8

HS

closures (an invention inspired by nature) and apparel using other closures (e.g., zippers, snaps,

$: FREE
Type: PDF

about the process of bio-inspired design. Students will race to put on apparel using Velcro
etc.). They then compare and discuss the results.
Objectives
Understand, appreciate, and assess the relative benefits of biologically inspired design.
http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/velcro-race-game/

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/function-activities/

Compare Human-Made Objects with Natural Objects


TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2005
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: FREE

In small groups, students experiment and observe the similarities and differences between humanmade objects and objects from nature. Observations are recorded in a chart and then shared in
a classroom discussion. Follow-up assessment activities include journal writing and constructing
Venn diagrams.
Objectives

Type:

Observe that many human-made objects get their basic design from nature.

webpage and
download

Understand the importance of function in design.


http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/wpi_/activities/wpi_
compare_human_natural/human_natural_sue.xml

66 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 67

Resources | Function

Hunting and Gathering for Ideas

Resources | Function

The Kids Science Challenge | 2009

Biomimicry Institute | 2013

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

In conjunction with the 2009 Kids Science Challenge, the organizers created a variety of lessons

6-8

HS

links provided within the lesson plans are now out of date, but educators can still use these plans

for grades 3-12. All of the lessons can still be accessed on the Challenge website. Some of the
as a framework, augmenting the lessons with case studies and other resources from within this

$: Free
Type:
word doc

Nature-Inspired Chemistry: Dye-Sensitized Solar Energy (lab)

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

toolkit.

$: FREE

http://www.kidsciencechallenge.com/year-four/teachers_plans_archives.php#bio

Type:

Dye-sensitized solar cells are inspired by photosynthesizing plants and have many advantages
over conventional silicon solar cells. This lab offers a hands-on illustration of a biomimetic
technology and is available in versions for upper elementary grades through high school, in both
English and Spanish.
Objectives

PDF and
2:42 min video

Nature-Inspired Chemistry: Concrete Without Quarries (lab)

Compare and contrast silicon-based and dye-sensitized solar cells.


Explain how dye-sensitized solar cells are similar to photosynthesis in nature.
Understand how solar energy can be converted into electrical energy using solar cells.
http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/nature-inspired-chemistry-lab-dye-

Biomimicry Institute | 2012

sensitized-solar-energy/

Description
K-2

3-5

While conventional human manufacturing methods have resulted in environmental damage,

6-8

HS

how corals create calcium carbonate, a compound humans mine and use to make cement. The

$: FREE

other species acquire and create materials in life-friendly ways. This lab helps students explore
lesson plan addresses key chemistry education standards and is available in versions for upper
elementary grades through high school, in both English and Spanish.
Type:
PDF and
2 min video

Objectives
Compare and contrast the use of calcium carbonate by corals and by humans.
Differentiate the by-products and effects resulting from the production of calcium carbonate
by corals versus those of conventional human methods.
Explain the lab procedure with a grade-appropriate understanding of atoms and chemical
reactions.
http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/nature-inspired-chemistry-lab-concretewithout-quarries/

Clipbirds
University of California Museum of Paleontology | 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: FREE
Type: PDF

This activity focuses on evolution and variation within a population. Much like the Battle of the
Beaks activity, students simulate birds competing for food. But this time the beaks are all the
same (in terms of strategy used), but vary in size. Students observe how the proportion of big-,
medium-, and small-beaked birds changes in response to the available types of food.
Objectives
Observe that the number of individuals with a given characteristic is related to their likelihood
of surviving and reproducing.
Understand that natural selection acts upon variation within a population.
Understand that context and environmental factors influence natural selection.
http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/the-evolution-game/

68 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 69

Resources | Function

Bio-Inspired Design Project: Lesson Collection

Biomimicry Institute | 2011


Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curated set of AskNature strategies showcases what we can learn from how organisms keep
cool.

$: FREE
Type:

http://www.asknature.org/collections/strategy/Cooling+Down+In+The+Heat#slide_0

slideshow

AskNature Collection: Staying Warm in the Cold


Biomimicry Institute | 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curated set of AskNature strategies showcases what we can learn from how organisms stay
warm.

$: FREE
Type:

http://www.asknature.org/collections/strategy/Staying+Warm+In+The+Cold#slide_0

slideshow

AskNature Collection: Rainforest Habitat


AskNature

Biomimicry Institute | 2010

Biomimicry Institute | 2008-present


Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

AskNature provides student innovators with the worlds most comprehensive catalog of natures
solutions to human design challenges. This curated online library features free information on

$: FREE

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

tropical rainforests.

nearly 1,800 (and growing!) natural phenomena and hundreds of bio-inspired applications. Usage

$: FREE

tutorials are available on the site.

Type:

Type: website www.asknature.org

AskNature Collection: Featured Strategies

http://www.asknature.org/collections/strategy/Rainforest+habitat#slide_0

slideshow

AskNature Collection: Chemistry of Nature


Biomimicry Institute | 2012

Biomimicry Institute | 2009


Description
K-2
6-8

3-5

This curated set of AskNature strategies showcases some great examples of how organisms meet
a wide variety of functional needs.

HS

slideshow

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This curated set of AskNature strategies showcases what we can learn from natures ability to
perform life-friendly chemistry.

$: FREE

$: FREE
Type:

This curated set of AskNature strategies showcases what we can learn from organisms living in

Type:
http://www.asknature.org/strategy/highlight/Featured#slide_1

70 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

slideshow

http://www.asknature.org/collections/strategy/Chemistry+of+Nature#slide_0

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 71

Resources | Function

AskNature Collection: Cooling Down In The Heat

Resources | Function

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

VBT/Bio-inspired Polymer (lab)

Biomimicry Institute | 2008-present

Beyond Benign

Description

Description

The Biomimicry Taxonomy is a hierarchy of functions that are used to classify strategies on
AskNature. It is a helpful tool for using AskNature effectively as well as helping students to better
understand the concept of function as an essential component of both human designs and

$: FREE

biological adaptations.

Type: PDF

http://www.asknature.org/article/view/biomimicry_taxonomy

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Explain how chemists have used this process in nature to develop a chemical process which
solves a societal problem.

Science Friday | February 2010

http://www.beyondbenign.org/K12education/highschool.html

Description

HS

Leaves have an intricate web of veins that transport nutrients and water and provide structural
support. But what determines the pattern of venation? Physicists Marcelo Magnasco and Eleni

$: Free

Katifori of The Rockefeller University, investigated this question using sophisticated algorithms
and glow-in-the-dark dye.

Green Chemistry, Biomimicry, and Intermolecular Forces


(lab)
Beyond Benign

Type: 5 min
video

Benign website in Section 2: Green Chemistry in Industry.

Describe the biological process of sun exposure to skin and how the body deals with UV light.

Lighting Up Leaves

6-8

The complete list of curricula is available at the link provided. This lab appears on the Beyond

Objectives

word doc

3-5

students learn about a new technology that makes the manufacturing of small electronics safer.

$: FREE
Type:

K-2

Beyond Benign has many labs for teaching green chemistry to high school students. In this one,

http://www.sciencefriday.com/topics/nature/video/02/12/2010/lighting-up-leaves.html

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Beyond Benign has many labs for teaching green chemistry to high school students. In this
one, students explore adhesives, intermolecular forces, and how biomimicry is being used by
chemists to invent greener alternative products. The complete list of curricula is available at the
link provided. This lab appears on the Beyond Benign website in Section 2: Green Chemistry in
Industry.
Objectives

$: FREE
Type: word
doc and PPTs

Describe the properties of adhesives and intermolecular forces.


Compare and contrast the properties of commercial and biological adhesives.
http://www.beyondbenign.org/K12education/highschool.html

Superhydrophobicity - The Lotus Effect


TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

In this lesson and related activity, students learn how plants create and use superhydrophobic

6-8

HS

properties of these natural surfaces.

$: Free

surfaces in nature and how engineers have created human-made products that mimic the
Objectives

Type:

Describe situations in which a superhydrophobic lotus-effect surface would be useful.

webpage and
link to activity

Explain the difference between Cassie-Baxter and Wenzel wetting and how it applies to
superhydrophobic surfaces.
Demonstrate the transition between Wenzel and Cassie-Baxter wetting states.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_lesson.php?url=collection/duk_/lessons/duk_
surfacetensionunit_lessons/duk_surfacetensionunit_less4.xml

72 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 73

Resources | Function

AskNature Biomimicry Taxonomy

Pattern
Patterns in nature, including the properties of
systems.

74 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 75

Resources | Pattern

Exploring The Way Life Works


Mahlon Hoagland and Bert Dodson | 2001

Linda Booth Sweeney | February 2009


Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

A well-managed farm is a great example of a living system. Linda Booth Sweeney believes
farms can become engaging classrooms where students can see and touch systems and come
to understand the interconnected nature of all living things. In this article from the Farm-Based
Education Network, Linda shares her ideas and offers a collection of activities for download.

$: FREE
Type: article
and download

http://www.farmbasededucation.org/page/systems-teaching-and-farmbased

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This popular science book explores the deep patterns in how life grows, develops, reproduces,
and survives. A true classic for biomimicry educators. While it is now out of print, many used
copies are available for purchase via Amazon. (Note: An earlier edition with virtually identical

$: approx

content was published in 1995 and 1998 as The Way Life Works. Both are excellent.)

Type: book

http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Way-Life-Works-Science/dp/076371688X/

$17.00+ (used;
out of print)

Get Loopy!
Ellen MacArthur Foundation | September 2010
Description
K-2

3-5

In this fun video, a mad professor, comedian Steve Punt, questions the way we currently make

6-8

HS

limits and the need for a circular economy.

stuff and asks us instead to Get Loopy! This video is a good introduction to the idea of natural
$: FREE
Type: 12 min
video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGERjaaY40g&feature=c4-overviewvl&list=PLDE60BB4DB4BD28F1

Patterns and Fingerprints


TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2007
Description

How We Make Stuff


Ellen MacArthur Foundation | 2012

K-2

3-5

Many design lessons can be found in the patterns that occur throughout nature. In this activity

6-8

HS

to the identification of fingerprints. They look at their classmates fingerprints, snowflakes, and

students learn several methods developed to identify and interpret patterns and apply them
$: FREE

spectral fingerprints of elements. They learn to identify each image as unique, yet part of a

Type:

group containing recognizable similarities.

webpage and
download

Objectives
Describe the differences and similarities between patterns and fingerprints.

Description

Extend a numerical and alpha-numerical pattern.


Recognize patterns present in the natural world.

K-2

3-5

This website is based on the pop-up book How We Make Stuff by Christiane Dorion. It offers

6-8

HS

has a section on biomimicry called What can we learn from other creatures?

children and primary educators a variety of ways to explore the concept of a circular economy and
$: FREE

Understand why pattern recognition is an important skill for engineers.


http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_
spect/cub_spect_activity1.xml

Type: website http://www.made2bmadeagain.org/

76 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 77

Resources | Pattern

Teaching about Living Systems on the Farm: Remembering


What We Already Know

Resources | Pattern

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2006


Description
K-2

3-5

This four-lesson unit, with several related activities, introduces students to the study of ecological

6-8

HS

understanding of these relationships to complete a sustainable design challenge.

relationships and the exchange of energy and matter within food webs. Students then apply their

$: FREE
Type:
4 lessons and 7
activities

Objectives
Define and explain the relationships embodied in food chains and food webs.
Understand the concepts of biome, population, and carrying capacity and how they are
related and measured.
Identify the connection between ecological relationships of organisms and their effect on
population to the fundamentals of engineering design.
Define biomimicry and provide examples.
Explain Natures Nine Laws as stated by Janine Benyus.
Propose a solution incorporating biomimicry to improve the ways in which we design
products, systems, and cities.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_curricularunit.php?url=collection/van_/curricular_
units/van_biomimicry_curricularunit/van_biomimicry_curricularunit.xml

Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant

K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

Michael Pawlyn: Using natures genius in architecture

Vi Hart | December 2011

TED | 2010

Description

Description

This three-part series playfully explores the mathematics of spirals, the Fibonacci sequence, and
the patterns found in plants. Parts 2 and 3 reveal the simple rules that optimize how plants grow
and from which Fibonacci sequences result. This series would be great for a dual lesson in science

K-2

3-5

How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? Michael Pawlyn describes patterns in

6-8

HS

drawing energy from the sun.

$: FREE

and math and also illustrates the value of sketching and looking for patterns.

$: FREE

Type:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahXIMUkSXX0

Type: 13:46

3 videos;
6 min each

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOIP_Z_-0Hs

min video

nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pawlyn_using_nature_s_genius_in_architecture.html

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14-NdQwKz9w

Sustainability in 7 - Nathan Shedroff on Systems Thinking


Designers Accord | April 2011
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In what he deems probably the fastest introduction ever, designer and educator Nathan
Shedroff introduces seven core elements of systems thinking.

$: FREE
Type: 4:55
min video

78 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

https://vimeo.com/22053134

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 79

Resources | Pattern

Implementing Biomimicry and Sustainable Design with an


Emphasis on the Application of Ecological Principles

Design Projects
Projects and resources that teach design processes.

80 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 81

Resources | Design Projects

Design Inspired by Nature

Museum of Science, Boston | 2005-2008, 2010, 2011

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2009

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

This unit, from the Engineering Is Elementary series, introduces elementary students to

6-8

HS

In this activity, students reverse engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products and

K-2

3-5

learn about the function of frog skin, compare and contrast natural objects with technologies that

6-8

HS

$: $50

have similar functions, and engage in an engineering design challenge. Lesson plans and materials

$: Free

Type:

may be purchased from the Museum of Science. Free videos are available demonstrating the

Type:

Define biomimicry.

5 lessons and
videos

curriculum in use in a classroom.

webpage and
download

Explain how engineers use biomimicry to design innovative new products.

bioengineering. Science concepts related to organisms basic needs are reinforced as students

Objectives

discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs.


Objectives

List examples of engineered products that were inspired by nature.


Use biomimicry to develop an idea for a new product.

Distinguish between objects found in the natural world and technologies designed by

http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_

humans.

lifescience/cub_lifescience_lesson03_activity2.xml

Identify the problem(s) that an object solves.


Match an object found in the natural world to a technology with a similar function.
Recognize the role of bioengineers in designing technologies based on ideas from the natural
world.

Biomimicry Design Approaches for Youth

Identify the basic needs of organisms and explain how different organisms meet those needs.

Biomimicry Institute | 2012

Recognize that bioengineers look to the natural world to inspire the technologies that they

Description

design.
Implement the steps of the Engineering Design Process.
http://www.eie.org/eie-curriculum/curriculum-units/just-passing-through-designing-modelmembranes

K-2

3-5

Created for the Biomimicry Youth Challenge, this diagram and accompanying teachers guide

6-8

HS

younger audience. While the diagram is most appropriate for a grade 3-8 audience, teachers may

$: FREE

find the methodology guide helpful for high school students as well.

Type: PDF

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/biomimicry-designapproaches-k-12/

Biomimicry: Natural Designs


TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2004
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

$: Free

introduces our Biology to Design and Challenge to Biology design methodologies to a

Working Together: Cooperative Design

In this activity, students learn about biomimicry and how engineers often imitate nature in

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum | 2010

the design of innovative new products. They demonstrate their knowledge of biomimicry by

Description

practicing brainstorming and designing a new product based on what they know about nature.
Objectives

Type:

Define biomimicry.

webpage and
download

Explain how engineers use biomimicry to design innovative new products.


List examples of engineered products that were inspired by nature.
Use biomimicry to develop an idea for a new product.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_bio/
cub_bio_lesson05_activity1.xml

K-2

3-5

In this lesson, students will learn about cooperative systems in nature and use design-thinking

6-8

HS

variables. This exercise is intended to complement social studies lessons related to geography or

$: FREE
Type:
webpage

strategies to come up with cooperative designs that combine multiple elements, audiences, or
physical systems. It includes suggested adaptations for upper elementary and high school.
Objectives
Describe parasitic and symbiotic relationships between organisms in ecosystems around the
world.
Create an interpretation of a cooperative design.
Think critically about regional ecosystems.
Understand applications in mapping, graphing, and chart making.
http://dx.cooperhewitt.org/lessonplan/biomimicry-working-together-cooperative-design/

82 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 83

Resources | Design Projects

Just Passing Through: Designing Model Membranes

Resources | Design Projects

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum | 2010

Biomimicry Institute | 2009

Description

Description

K-2

3-5

In this lesson students consider shelters built by animals and create eco-friendly designs for use

6-8

HS

perspective of the animal that inspired the design. This lesson is written to complement core

in the built environment. Students also write stories and essays about their designs from the

$: FREE

standards in language arts and includes suggested adaptations for upper elementary and high

Type:

school.
Objectives

webpage

Biomimicry Week-long Unit for Middle School

Understand some characteristics of the local bioregion and the structure and form of animal

K-2

3-5

This unit, with an optional climate change case study, teaches middle schoolers about biomimicry

6-8

HS

explore their own biomimetic solutions. Some of the components in these units could also be

through a powerpoint presentation, outdoor exercises, and the opportunity for students to
used independently, oras a one or two-day introduction to biomimicry.
Objectives

$: Free
Type:
5-day plan

shelters.

Define biomimicry and why it is valuable.


Explore natural objects for clues about their function.
Interpret information from organism fact sheets and research findings to create ideas for

Apply design thinking strategies to create new designs and foster ideas that consider the

bio-inspired design solutions.

local environment and biomimicry principles.

http://ben.biomimicry.net/curricula-and-resources/youth-curricula/week-long-units-ms/

http://dx.cooperhewitt.org/lessonplan/biomimicry-housing-naturally-habitat-as-model/

Nature: Architecture of the Future


Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum | 2010

National Geographic Education: Engineering Inspirations


from Nature
National Geographic

Description
K-2

3-5

In this lesson, written to complement core standards in history and geography, students

6-8

HS

examples of architecture that were influenced by the natural world. Students then design

consider the relationship between nature and design by comparing and contrasting historical
$: FREE

their own architectural models factoring in local variables like climate and native materials. We

Type:

suggest pairing this lesson with others that emphasize the concepts of function and emulation in

webpage

biomimicry. Includes suggested adaptations for upper elementary and high school.
Objectives
Understand how concepts of biomimicry and ecological design drive trends in architecture,
past and present.
Propose how to redesign school buildings or homes using characteristics found in the local
bioregion.

Description
K-2

3-5

What is an engineer, and how do some engineers learn from animals? In this activity, students

6-8

HS

an underwater vehicle that can withstand both heat and cold. This is the fourth lesson from a

$: FREE
Type:
webpage

investigate how nature can inspire engineers. Students follow an engineering process to design
collection of five engineering lessons based on the National Geographic DEEPSEA CHALLENGE.
Objectives
Design an engineering solution to a problem using nature as an inspiration.
Construct a definition of an engineer and identify examples of biomimicry.
Identify the constraints and considerations of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition.
http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/activity/engineering-inspirationsnature/?ar_a=1

Consider how architecture and design are influenced bybiological phenomena.


http://dx.cooperhewitt.org/lessonplan/biomimicry-nature-architecture-of-the-future/

84 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 85

Resources | Design Projects

Housing Naturally: Habitat as Model

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2009

New York Times Learning Network | December 2001

Description

Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

In this lesson, which could be used in a language arts class, students research the development of
a commercial product that imitates nature, perform infomercials describing how they work, and
then synthesize their understanding by creating and advertising a biomimetic product of their own

$: FREE

design. This lesson was created to accompany a New York Times article from 2001 but could be

Type:

used as a framework to analyze a more recent news feature on biomimicry.

webpage

Objectives

K-2

3-5

In this unit, students are introduced to the world of creative engineering product design. Through

6-8

HS

project challenge is left up to the teacher or class to determine, so this framework can be used

six activities, teams work through the steps of a simplified engineering design process. The
for a biomimicry design challenge, with appropriate additional material introducing biomimicry

$: FREE

and guiding students to look for ideas from nature in the research and brainstorming steps of the

Type:
webpage and
downloads

process.
Objectives
Use an engineering design process to solve a problem, including these steps:

Name some examples of biomimicry and describe in detail how at least one product works

identify the need and define the problem;

and why it is better than conventional solutions.

conduct background research;

Practice the creative aspect of biomimicry by proposing imaginary products that mimic

brainstorm and develop ideas and possible solutions;

nature.
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2001/12/11/its-only-natural/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_

evaluate alternatives and perform design analysis;

php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&

construct and test prototypes; and


perform evaluation and make final products.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_curricularunit.php?url=collection/cub_/curricular_

Mother Natures Shoes

units/cub_creative/cub_creative_curricularunit.xml

PBS SciGirls | 2012


Description
K-2

3-5

This episode follows three girls from Minnesota who work on a challenge to design shoes that

6-8

HS

expert at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to draw up and prototype designs, which

Biomimicry DesignLens
Biomimicry 3.8 | 2013

wont slip on the ice. They do research on AskNature, visit zoos, and work with a biomimicry

Description

they then test.

K-2

3-5

The Biomimicry DesignLens is a collection of diagrams capturing the core components of

Type: 27:25

Click on Full Episodes, scroll down the list, and choose Mother Natures Shoes.

6-8

HS

Principles, and Biomimicry Thinking). The PDF available here provides both the diagrams and

min video

Objectives

$: FREE

Type: PDF

Explain how one might learn to solve human problems by studying animals and other living

http://ben.biomimicry.net/biomimicry-designlens/

things.
http://pbskids.org/scigirls/video

86 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry 3.8s approach to the practice of biomimicry (Biomimicry Essential Elements, Lifes
summaries describing them.

$: FREE

Stills from PBS SciGirls: Mother Natures Shoes

Resources | Design Projects

Creative Engineering Design

Biomimicry DesignLens Supplement


Biomimicry 3.8 and the Biomimicry Institute | 2013
Description
K-2

3-5

6-8

HS

This supplement to the Biomimicry DesignLens provides additional explanation for each step of
two Biomimicry Thinking methodologies: Biology to Design and Challenge to Biology.

$: FREE
Type: PDF

http://ben.biomimicry.net/designlens-supplement-biomimicry-thinking-approaches/

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 87

Resources | Design Projects

Its Only Natural: Exploring Ways in Which Commercial


Products Borrow Designs from Natural Sources

TeachEngineering.org Resources for K-12 | 2006


Description
K-2

3-5

This four-lesson unit, with several related activities, introduces students to the study of ecological

6-8

HS

understanding of these relationships to complete a sustainable design challenge.

relationships and the exchange of energy and matter within food webs. Students then apply their

$: FREE
Type:
4 lessons and 7
activities

Objectives
Define and explain the relationships embodied in food chains and food webs.
Understand the concepts of biome, population, and carrying capacity and how they are
related and measured.
Identify the connection between ecological relationships of organisms and their effect on
population and the fundamentals of engineering design.
Define biomimicry and provide examples.
Explain Natures Nine Laws as stated by Janine Benyus.
Propose a solution incorporating biomimicry to improve the ways in which we design
products, systems, and cities.
http://www.teachengineering.org/view_curricularunit.php?url=collection/van_/curricular_
units/van_biomimicry_curricularunit/van_biomimicry_curricularunit.xml

Photo | Rocket Ship (Flickr)

Resources | Design Projects

Implementing Biomimicry and Sustainable Design with an


Emphasis on the Application of Ecological Principles

88 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 89

Thank you for sharing


biomimicry with your
students!
We hope that the resources in this toolkit both
enhance your own understanding of biomimicry and
spark inquiry and discussion among your students.
If you find this free toolkit to be a valuable resource,
there are three important ways that you can support it.
1.

Share the toolkit. The more educators who


know about biomimicry, the more students will
come to see nature as a source of inspiration
worth protecting.

2.

Give feedback. You can help us improve this


collection by recommending additions, sending
us original curricula, and giving advice on what
worked (or didnt) with your students. Contact us
at k12toolkit@biomimicry.org.

3.

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90 K-12 Resource Toolkit | Biomimicry Institute

Photo | North Cascades National Park

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Biomimicry Institute | K-12 Resource Toolkit 91