How has nature inspired renewable energy technologies?

This will be the question addressed by this month’s posts.  I have also invited Daniel Arneman, PhD, an environmental analyst at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to contribute posts this month.  Daniel works to measure and manage the campus’s carbon footprint and he also has a passion for learning about biomimicry.

Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf.  The core idea is that Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, packaging, and a whole lot more.

Introduce your students to the concept and methodology of biomimicry and inspire them to seek designs in nature. Download curricula, PowerPoint presentations, games and more for free from the Biomimicry Institute upon completion of a short online registration form.

Try Function Junction, an outdoor learning activity where students match a function (e.g., moving water) to an object from nature that performs that function. The specified functions must be solved both in the biological and human technological world.  For this activity you could add functions like 1) capture sunlight or 2) catch the wind to get students thinking about how nature can inspire wind and solar energy technologies.



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