Photo: Julie-Anne Davies

Biomimicry: Grades 3-12

What do bird wings and burdock seeds have in common? They both served as inspiration for important technological advances: the shape of a bird wing helped Wilbur and Orville Wright design and build their first flying machines, while the tiny, ultra-annoying hooks on burdock seeds that help them disperse by sticking to EVERYTHING, inspired Swiss engineer George de Mestro to imitate them with his 1940’s invention that we all know and love: Velcro.

These are just two of the better-known examples of biomimicry, whereby humans use the beautiful and efficient designs found in nature, perfected over millions of years of evolution, to come up with inventions and techniques to solve modern human challenges. From studying the complex behaviour of ant colonies to help make human warehousing and parcel delivery more efficient, to looking to an unlikely source of inspiration, the lowly mosquito, to try to design a new, painless needle for human medicine, biomimicry takes the lead from nature to solve the challenges of modern civilization. 

Lesson Plan: Biomimicry

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