• Angie O'Malley

Biomimicry

In the past, I've taught biomimicry to 5th grade students. Biomimicry is the innovation and design that occurs from nature as its inspiration. This concept was simple for older students, but I noticed it aligned best with first grade science standards. What I didn't expect, was for it to be as complex for the 1st grade students as it was. We began by deciphering the word. Next, we looked at tons of examples of product design that demonstrated biomimicry. We played a guessing game, viewing the product and guessing what part of nature it mimicked. Next, we reversed the game. I showed students a photo of something from nature and they thought of design ideas. This is where it got tricky. I heard responses such as "The cat reminds me of a dog" or "The vines look like a tree." Students had a very difficult time distinguishing nature and living items to inanimate objects. Students also seemed very stuck on inventing their own ideas. Many of their designs were examples we shared as a whole group. One solution I found after this day, was to break down the characteristics of the inspiration. I had students think of their favorite animal, draw it, then describe various parts of it and compare it to a non-living thing. For example, "The tail is , like a " and students may fill in "The tail is fluffy, like a duster." This step helped guide students along.

After a couple sessions of talking, giving examples, drawing and sharing our ideas students were getting the hang of it. They soon prototyped their creation and they turned out fantastic! Check out some of their ideas!

Cat Tail Duster:

Bird Winged Plane:

Tree Play Structure:

Elephant Underwater Vacuum Truck:

Seal Plane:

Dinosaur Machine Crane: