How biomimicry boosts students’ observation skills, creativity and critical thinking.

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.

Ken Robinson

Slugs and snails can usually be found hiding under branches and rocks in the schoolyard. Introduce students to biomimicry and you are likely to come across groups of students marvel at a slug or snail creep along the surface. This may not only spark of a love for the natural world but also an understanding of how valuable animals and plants are for sustainable solutions.

Imagine that you are crawling in a tight space.

I am sure you agree that it is rather difficult and tricky to move around.

What if you were a slug?

You may hear students talk about how slugs can squeeze through tiny crack and how they can climb a vertical surface or travel upside-down. Then they use this observation to invent something. The focus shift from observing to being inspired by the observation to solve problems or to invent things. The impact of the observation is mind-blowing.

In the future, innovators, engineers and designers will be looking for ever more efficient and sustainable solutions, and biomimicry can help provide inspiration and ideas.

What is Biomimicry

Bio means life, and mimicry means to mimic life and nature.

Biomimicry offers 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. Mother Nature has already solved many of the problems that we are facing today. Nature watching is a fun way to hunt for ideas and solve problems. Noticing, listening, and smelling are vital factors to build a foundation upon which ideas inspired by nature can be explored.

Biomimicry is an exciting way to inspire young students to be creative, curious and to observe the world. Students come to understand how animals and plants can be used as a platform upon which ideas, buildings and inventions can be developed. Biomimicry bridges the boundaries traditionally found in education and provides students with an opportunity to mix art, literature and science with an innovative approach.

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Passion for questions

Biomimicry is not aimed at learning names of animal or plants. It is about observing behaviours and functions and using these as a stepping stone for ideas. There are no right or wrong answers or solutions.

So what purpose do these biomimicry projects serve?

Students learn things by asking questions, and biomimicry can be used to explore imaginative, innovative, and even serious questions. The projects are intended to inspire a playful and creative approach towards problem solving.

Question asking is an undervalued part of education, and when using biomimicry with students is also great to allow children to ask deeper questions about nature. Questions of a more philosophical nature that will help them to develop a mindset that understands nature.

Using biomimicry in the classroom

Creative thinking has several different stages, and getting the ideas is only the start. Ideas and solutions need to be twisted and turned around. Few, if any, ideas are born perfect. The trick to creative thinking is to select from the rich waves of thoughts swirling around in our minds, and note them down for further exploration.

Lessons about biomimicry require a brave approach to teaching since there is a move away from an approach where teachers are asking questions and looking for answers. Instead young learners are given an opportunity to shape and explore their own ideas. Biomimicry and bioinspiration are constantly evolving and new ideas are explored to solve problems and design sustainable solutions. Creative solutions that have value.

It might be difficult to understand why biomimicry is important and what children can learn from this approach to look at nature to find inspiration for new ideas. Most school teach children about how animals and plants grow, where they can be found, and taxonomy but nature can be used as an inspiration to solve some of the most urgent sustainability challenges. So maybe biomimicry or biometrics should be part of every curriculum.

What impact should you see?

David Attenborough’s films remind us how incredible the natural world is. Yet, what is the extinction of the sloth to a child who has never heard birds sing in the woodland covered in a sea shimmering of bluebells? Or watched daffodils dance in the spring winds in the local park?

Biomimicry creates a positive learning atmosphere, builds confidence and gives a nature a value. Students will be filled with awe for nature while they explore curious questions, and use their observations to create, draw and build models their ideas.

Solving everyday problems, designing things and make innovations by studying nature is just a different way to use imagination. A wild play that takes place in your head and in your hands when you draw or build a model of you fascinating innovation. Teaching students to use creative techniques and tools is vital if they are going to help solve problems that they will face in the future. To value animals and plants is necessary to develop a desire to save and care for them.

Biomimicry is great brain workout since it challenges children to be creative and to use their observations to solve problems and design things. Building model and making sketches is part of biomimicry – tinkering with a purpose.

Biomimicry is an exciting way to be creative, curious and to observe the world. It offers a fantastic opportunity to use magnifiers, binoculars and discover how fantastic the natural world really is.

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