Welcome to the Biomimicry challenge.
Seven days filled with inspiration to observe animals and plants and to use these as a platform upon which ideas, buildings and inventions can be developed. An innovative approach to a subject requires courage to break patterns and to question ideas. The earlier children are taught this the more successful they will be later in adapting a creative approach to a topic.
Biomimicry provides an opportunity to bring the learning outdoors – observing, listening and smelling are vital factors to build a foundation upon which ideas inspired by nature can be explored.
Nature has spent millions of years developing solutions. Animals and plants are constantly changing and evolving to meet new challenges. How quickly species can change and adapt to a new environment was recently discovered when scientist studied a fish.
Emily Standen decided to drain an aquarium of nearly all its water to see if how the fish, bichir, coped. This fish can breathe air and haul itself over land so the idea was not as crazy as it might sound. She wanted to see if the fish could survive but what she found was astonishing. The bichir become better at “walking”. The fins were closer to the bodies, and the fish began to lift its head higher off the ground. Even the skeleton changed.
All this happened within the lifetime of the fish. The change was not a slow process over several generations. Thus its seem like the fish adapted first and they mutated (often scientists have assumed the opposite).
Take a moment to think about the fact that a fish can learn to walk.
- How can you use this observation?
Why not ask this question at the dinner table? I am sure you will be amazed at the wondrous ideas that this observation can lead to. New cool innovations inspired by the fact that some fish can learn to walk. A great way to spark interest for biomimicry and innovations.
Now to today’s biomimicry challenge inspired by jellyfish. Delicate and exquisitely coloured, jellyfish may look like they simply drift with the ocean’s currents. But at least some species of jellyfish, barrel jellyfish, can not only detect the direction of ocean currents, but also to swim against them. The barrel jellyfish has advanced orientation abilities (see video below).
But jellyfish is also stunningly beautiful. Look at the illustration below from the book Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman.
Invent a robot using jellyfish ability to orientate themselves in the ocean. Design a lamp using a colourful jellyfish as inspiration. Or build a city inspired by the sea and jellyfish.
Build a model of your innovation or design. Or make a drawing. I would love to see your creations so please send them to me and I will post them here. You find my email address at the top under the page About. Thanks.
Dive into the exciting world of jellyfish and inventions! Enjoy!
After you have completed the challenge, please look at some designs and innovations inspired by jellyfish.