Imitating Life Designing with biomimicry

Lesson 3

In the last lesson, we looked at the biomimicry design spiral, and in particular, the first two terms: DEFINE and BIOLOGIZE. Do you remember what these terms mean? We even had a go at the first one - at defining a problem that we might want to find a solution to. 

Biomimicry Design Spiral. DEFINE - function and context. BIOLOGIZE - the challenge. DISCOVER - biological models. ABSTRACT - strategies. EMULATE - strategies. EVALUATE - fitness.

In this lesson, you are going to attempt the next two stages (BIOLOGIZE and DISCOVER) in your groups. You might want to take a look at your mindmap at Mind Meister just to remind you of your group's ideas. 

In your groups, come up with as many ways as you can think of to BIOLOGIZE your ideas (for instance, if you're thinking of making a new type of drone, you might look to different species of birds, bats, bees, mosquitos, dragonflies etc.). 

Now start a new Mind Meister mindmap and label it BIOLOGIZE. Map all these ideas out, annotating specific features and categorising them (for instance, all birds together and all insects together).

The next stage is to DISCOVER. This is where you research ideas that you generated when you BIOLOGIZED to find out if your list from nature is really useful. You can look at text-based resources (blogs and articles) and videos, but why not try to find some simulation sites that let you explore what it's like to be an insect etc.? Here are some examples:

Now adjust your BIOLOGIZE mindmap to reflect your research. Highlight the things that have shown promise and annotate the reasons why. 

To finish this lesson we're going to take a break from the 'spiral'. Up to now, we've looked at the beneficial side of biomimicry - the good things that can come of borrowing from nature and how sustainable it is. But are there any negatives? 

Discuss in your group. Think about issues that you've had while DEFINING, BIOLOGIZING and DISCOVERING. Does copying nature always lead to sustainable practices? Is nature always right? Is copying from nature really hard? Settle on one issue as a group that you'd like to discuss with the class. 

By the way, having a critical look at biomimicry doesn't mean that we're dismissing it. Biomimicry is still really interesting and useful but by looking at all aspects we get a realistic picture of its uses as well as its limitations. 

In the next lesson we're going to continue our way around the spiral and you're going to continue to hone your project in preparation for your final assessment - creating a biomimicry prototype.