Introducing Biomimicry Life’s Principles for Young Students

Nature works by relying on some deep patterns, and Life’s Principles are design lessons from nature. It is a framework that can help us when we are exploring nature. This is done by focusing on one of the six principles at a time. People who work with creating nature-inspired solutions are familiar with these principles and the principles help us discover nature’s forms, processes as well as systems. It is a language that helps us to describe a range of biological phenomena.

Below is an image of the principles and as you can see they can be quite overwhelming for young students. Yet, exploring some of the principles will help students to develop a deeper understanding of nature and ultimately help them get wonderful ideas, develop sustainable solutions, and mind-blowing inventions.

One way of introducing the principles is to let the students write their own principles based on their observations. We used a similar approach when we wrote the Regenerative Travel Principles for our contribution to the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge.

Cooperate like wandering gliders: Cultivate cooperation and connect with people whilst travelling.

This principle was inspired by the long-distance traveling carried out by the dragonfly – wandering gliders. We used the Biomimicry Taxonomy as inspiration. You can read more about it here.

The Life Principle to be resource-efficient is perfect to explore when discussing recycling, reducing, and reusing (today recover or redesign are often added as a fourth R). When we study nature it is also perhaps more accurate to talk about upcycling. Often several organisms, or ecosystems of organisms, break down complex organic materials into smaller molecules that are then used by other organisms and reassembled into new materials.

Fungi and bacteria break down dead organisms. They help recycle minerals and nutrients, which can be used by other organisms. Nature’s recyclers come in many forms and many of these can be found in the local park or schoolyard. Young students love watching snails, slugs, and beetles. Mushroom and lichen are endlessly enchanting. Each of these recyclers has its own job in the decomposition process.

Using slugs as inspiration to explore the principles Use Life- Friendly Chemistry may inspire ideas such as:

Break down materials like slugs break down leaves: Find new ways of using things.

Photo by Annelies Brouw on

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