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Nature Did it First: Engineering Through Biomimicry
The author of Nature Did It First, Karen Ansberry, is a former classroom teacher and co-author of one of my favorite elementary science curriculum resources, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons. Ansberry is a master of combining science concepts, story and engaging STEM activities. (Not to mention an awesome facilitator for science education professional development, I have been lucky enough to attend her workshops, they are great!)
We really enjoyed reading Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry at our house. It is the perfect mix of fun little poems and really interesting information about how animals like geckos and kingfishers and plants like burrs have influenced engineers to solve human problems. I also really like that there are materials and additional resources available for teachers at the end of the book and online, including a free STEM lesson plan found here.
What is Biomimicry?
First of all, what is biomimicry anyway? If you break down the word, into "bio" and "mimic" you probably can figure it out. Biomimicry is the process of designing nature-inspired solutions to human problems. It is mimicking what we find in nature to help us in our daily lives.
Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry explores 7 interesting plants and animals and how their natural features inspired engineers in their designs.
Nature Did It First!
As I read this book to my daughter, I was surprised by many of the ways that animal and plant behavior or physical adaptations have been incorporated into designs in the human world.
Did you know that gecko toes have inspired the development of adhesives?
Did you know that the fins of humpback whales helped engineers design more smooth and efficient windmill and water turbine blades?
How about this- did you know that the slippery surface of a pitcher plant inspired a material that helps ketchup slide out of bottles more readily?
These are just a few of the wild ways humans have been inspired by nature! You'll find several more fascinating examples when you read Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry. This book would be a fantastic introduction to a STEM lesson at school, or the perfect read-aloud for nature-loving children at home. I highly recommend it!
Adaptation and Biomimicry Activities
To get children learning and thinking about the different features of animals, send them on an animal adaptation scavenger hunt! Read about the adaptations of sloths, anteaters and armadillos in this post, then download a FREE adaptation scavenger hunt card (link at bottom of post) that you can use to search for household items that have similar features or uses as these animal adaptations. [If you prefer, you can also download this scavenger hunt for free on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.]
How is camouflage used in the natural world and human world? Explore some fun camouflage science activities and find some related book suggestions here.
Children and students can design an animal in the amazing adaptations art activity included in my International Sloth Day post here.
Don't miss the awesome STEM challenge and teaching materials available in the back of Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry and free downloads for grades K-2 and 3-5 found at the book's webpage here.
In this engineering challenge, students will study nature, brainstorm a problem that can be solved by an idea from nature, brainstorm and design an invention, build a model and share their creation. An added language arts component could be to write a poem about the natural idea they investigated, similar to the wonderful poetry in Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry.
Many, many thanks to Karen Ansberry for sharing her wonderful book with me!