Imagine that you have wings like a ladybird. What would you do?
Ladybirds are delightful to have around and we always close our eyes and make a wish when a ladybird flies away from our hands. Since I love roses, ladybirds are a true friend for that reason as well. And a rosebush is indeed the perfect place to do some ladybird spotting.
Ladybirds may look like delicate creatures but they can fly at the speed of a racehorse. They can also fly at altitudes close to the height of the highest mountain in the British Islands, Ben Nevis, 1,344 meters above sea level.
When a ladybird flies it opens its wings that are under hidden under its elytra. The Elytra is the hard shell that protects the ladybird. The elytra are symmetrical. Every time a ladybird has finished flying it has to fold the wings back underneath the elytra.
This construction can be very useful when you are designing a helmet or playhat. Instead of always carrying a raincoat with you when you go for a bike ride, imagine that a raincover opens up like an umbrella under the helmet. Windshields blades could appear on the sunglasses, the ladybirds’ antenna inspired this idea.
We made a template that we used to sketch some design ideas for a ladybird helmet. Biomimicry is a great way to encourage children to draw and illustrate their ideas. Pastels were used on a black paper.
Going from a sketch to building a model is not always easy. But ideas that we had were to make a helmet using papier mâché and then use some old sunglasses and tissue paper to make the rainprotection glasses and raincover.We are still thinking about how these would appear. But one thing is clear, everything should pop up when the first raindrop hits the helmet.