Peter and the Tree Children by Peter Wohlleben

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for books about trees for children. I was so excited when I found a picture book by Peter Wohlleben the author of The Hidden Life of Trees. In that book, he shares how trees communicate, feel and grow. Go here to read a blog post inspired by his book.

In the children’s book, Peter is writing a fictionalized version of himself as a naturalist who is talking to a lonely orphaned squirrel. Peter and the squirrel Piet start searching for tree children. Peter says that you can’t be lonely in a forest full of friends. The book is a reminder of the importance of preserving natural forests. A forest is home a many creatures.

Peter shares wonderful facts about trees as they wander around in the forest. They meet all sorts of creatures, from a family of caterpillars to a magnificent hawk. Peter talks about how the trees communicate and care for each other. Piet, the squirrel, begins to feel better when he realises that the beechnuts he has hidden and forgotten all about has turned into beech children.

“The most beautiful forest of tree children ever. And we found it.”

The message in the book is that trees need the protection of taller trees to survive and grow old. I like the book, but in contrast to his bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees, I do not love it. Writing for a younger audience is not easy and I do think that more amazing content about trees and their families could have been woven into the story. The last page has some interesting facts that you can use to further explore the exciting lives of tree families.

Peter has also written a book for older children – Can You Hear the Trees Talking. This book introduces children to interesting and fun facts about trees. Also, there are suggestions for outdoor activities and quizzes.

  • How trees talk to each other – the wood wide web
  • Why trees are important in the city 
  • How trees make us healthy and strong 
  • How trees get sick, and how we can help them get better 

This book makes a lovely gift for curious nature lovers!

Planktonium – A Journey to a Microscopic World

Children are driven by curiosity! What can be more exciting than discovering the microscopic world?

A microscope is a super tool for encouraging children to love biology and also to develop their observational skills. Despite a fascination for tiny organisms, I must admit I was not quite prepared for the voyage that filmmaker Jan van IJken takes you to in his short film Planktonium. A journey to a secret universe that is right here on our planet, yet, it is a world filled with alien-like creatures.

The beautiful organisms are invisible to the naked eye but they can be found beneath the surface of waters around us. They might be tiny but the organisms play a vital role in all life on Earth. The small plant-like cells, phytoplankton, produce half of all the oxygen on earth, while the zooplankton forms the base for the food chain in the sea.

Plankton plays a vital role in the global carbon cycle. Sadly they are threatened by global changes as well as the acidification of the oceans.

Visually this is a spectacular film, brilliant coloured blob and strange-looking monsters with gigantic eyes. But that is not all, the sound adds another layer. Norwegian artist Jana Winderen recorded sounds deep underwater and this makes this strange world really come to life.

I love how the film is shot like a journey into space – there are images moving against a black background. This highlights the beauty and also that just like a journey into space, most of this world we do not understand. A great challenge for young children to embrace!

A fun way to start exploring plankton is to make some drawings! This film is a lovely starting point. Enjoy!

Waxcap Fungi – Colourful Inspiration for Biomimicrists

A couple of weeks ago I attended an online session organised by Plantlife about grassland and waxcap fungi.

Members of the Hygrophoraceae family, commonly known as waxcaps, are beautiful and often colourful mushrooms. They come in a rainbow of colours from bright rich scarlets and lemon yellow to purples and greens and pink. They glow like little gems in the grass. Their colours are often used in their common names, for example, pink ballerina, snowy waxcap, crimson waxcap, golden waxcap, and the colourful parrot waxcap. Perfect inspiration for storywriting!

Waxcaps can be found in gardens and grassy spaces in towns. You can also spot these stunning fungi in the countryside. Waxcaps are a indicator of species rich grassland. They are becoming rarer since they prefer old, undistrubed grassland, which stores a third of the world’s land-based carbon.

By Anne Burgess, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9364372

Old meadows and grassland are important in the fight against climate change. Grassland provid protection from soil erosion, carbon loss, and can encourage greater biodiversity. Often the focus is on trees when exploring nature-based solutions to climate change. But grassland can store even more carbon than forests so it is a wonderful nature-based solution in the fight against climate change.

Fungi is a wonderful source of inspiration for biomimicrists. They have been used for creating solutions such as sustainable packaging, meat-alternative, and textile applications.

Featured image CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15724098

Inspirational Video – Aardvark

The first word in the English dictionary is Aardvark. A charming mammal that looks like they were made from parts of other animals.

Aardvarks are nocturnal burrowing animals that are found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara. The aardvark’s body and long snout look a bit like a pig and their name comes from South Africa’s Afrikaans language and means “earth pig.” This keystone species has a kangaroo tail and long rabbitlike ears. It has a very long tongue, 30 cm, which it uses to lick up ants and termites. And its closest relative may come as a big surprise since it is the elephant!

A keystone species has a large effect on its natural environment. Other keystone species are, for example, elephants, whales, and wolves. The aardvark uses its sharp claws and powerful legs to dig out the hills. It also digs to make burrows where they live and raise their young. They can dig very fast, 0. 6 m in 15 seconds. Other animals like African wild dogs take over the olds burrows after the aardvark. So they play an important part in the exosystem.

Aardvarks are also spreading seeds from a plant called Aardvark cucumber or Aardvark pumpkin. The plants rely on the aardvark to eat the fruit in order to spread and re-bury the seeds of the plant. The plant is a rare type of plant that flowers underground, just like a peanut. The fruits are first developing above the ground on stalks. The stalks bend and are pushed back under the ground. The aardvark eats the plant to get water.

My main question after having watched the videos below is why the aardvark snuffles in its sleep. What do you think?

Fiction and non-fiction books about aardvarks

Have you read any of the books about Arthur? He is a famous aardvark character. Oi Aardvark is another awesome book featuring aardvarks.

Dolphin Sleep Pattern and Other Interesting Things

Sleeping like a dolphin has its advantages! Would it not be wonderful to rest one of your brain hemispheres at a time and to sleep with one eye open.

Dolphins are fascinating and they are a wonderful source of inspiration for ideas related to their superpowers whether it is echolocation, communication, streamlined body shape, or sleep pattern.

Despite the lack of complete sleep, unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS) does not give dolphins any problems with their health or memory. Their immune system, brain plasticity, brain energy metabolism, and thermoregulation help them to compensate for the lack of complete sleep. One half of the brain is in deep sleep and the eye corresponding to this half is closed while the other half is awake and the eye remains open.

A great way to observe animals sleeping with an eye open is to study birds in your garden or in the local park. Birds look really cute when they are sleeping with one eye open. Threats in the environment, as well as specific requirements, have led to the evolution of asymmetrical sleep. Dolphins for example need to go up to the surface to breathe.

Under some circumstances, it seems that even we humans exhibit a similar sleeping style, for example when we experience troubles sleeping in a new location. This is called the first night effect. When we are familiar with a place, we can enjoy a deep night’s sleep. I love how our observations of animals such as dolphins have helped us gain a deeper understanding of the way we humans sleep.

Brilliant inspirational nature books för curious kids

The best inspiration apart from spending time in nature is picture books. I am passionate about all sorts of books and children’s books are no different. Wonderful pictures, exciting stories, and silly rhymes are the best way to get ideas. The best picture books contain plenty of opportunities for learning, yet it does not feel like learning.

Save Our Species: Endangered Animals and How You Can Save Them by Dominic Couzens

This is a stunning practical guide to understanding and preserving 30 plants and animals that are on the decline in Britain. The book is brimming with information about well-loved creatures such as hedgehogs, puffins, and nightingales. Species that sadly has been in decline in the UK since the 1950s and 1960s.

With beautiful illustrations from Sarah Edmonds, lesser-known British animals such as the pink sea fan, and the grey long-eared bat are also included. I love that this book offers suggestions on what we need to do to help the animals so that they have the best chance of survival.

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature: Amazing Animals and the Magical Creatures of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts by The Natural History Museum

Wow! This book is a real treat and a book that I will return to again and again. It is will delight both naturalists and Harry Potter fans. The perfect combination of both. The book explores the magical creatures from J.K.Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as the mythological and real creatures of our Muggle world.

A range of experts and conservationists begins each chapter with an essay written about the creature. Filled with spectacular information and wonderful pictures and illustrations. The book is inspiared by an exhibition at the National History Museum in London.

Wild City: Meet the animals who share our city spaces by Ben Hoare

Wildlife is all around us even if you live in a city. Many animals live close to our doorsteps and this amazing book introduces some of the wildlife that you can find in urban settings. Amazing detailed illustrations by Lucy Rose transports you to the often hidden wildlife that thrives in big cities. Learn about why Cape Towns attract lots of sea life. Do you know where reptiles like to stay in Bangkok?

Biomimicry Educator – Inspiring Students

A new school term and perhaps time to introduce Biomimicry to your students!

“Biomimicry builds off of a child’s natural curiosity, and it allows students to discover how things (evolved into) its current state. It allows students to see the differences and similarities in nature. It allows learners to become heroes of their own learning… and allows diverse learners to reflect on the past to find solutions to present situations.” — Billy Almon

Here is a video from the Biomimicry Institute that explains how biomimicry can offer an effective, engaging, and inspiring framework for STEAM education while empowering students to think differently about nature and their future.

Bringing nature into the classroom, whether at home, school or virtually online, offers a way to explore what can be learnt from the schoolyard, local park or garden. It allows children to work together to solve prolbmes and to be creative. The perfect way to mix art and science by using natural materials such as leaves, flowers, seedheads, and pinecones. An opportunity to use the five sense and explore shapes and patterns in nature.

Give your students Biomimicrylicious Time this term!

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.https://asknature.org/resource/biomimicry-taxonomy/

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 Pexels.com

BioThinkDive about Ice-Cream, Beaches, and Travelling

Spring has arrived with bats, butterflies, nest-building! Weekends and school holidays are spent at the beach. Ice creams, sunhats, and sandcastles are part of a visit to the beach. But can a visit to the beach involve biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the conscious observation of the natural world. The observations can be used to solve problems. Travelling is lovely but tourism is also a huge problem.

Animals that travel often have a positive impact on the place they visit. Every year millions of animals migrate. Migrations are impressive and often animals travel thousands of miles by land, sea, or air. But migration also has a vital role to play in the ecosystem and it affects the distribution of prey and predators and keeps nutrients cycling around the planet. Plants and fungi also travel, pollen and seeds are spread by land, sea, and air.

“Among their many ecological roles, whales recycle nutrients and enhance primary productivity in areas where they feed.” They do this by feeding at depth and releasing fecal plumes near the surface—which supports plankton growth—a remarkable process described as a “whale pump.” Whales also move nutrients thousands of miles from productive feeding areas at high latitudes to calving areas at lower latitudes.” Phys org

Sustainable travelling means that you try not to harm the natural environments. But travelling and a visit to the beach can also be regenerative. Regenerative travelling means that you give something back to the place that you visit.

“If being “green” is about doing less damage and “sustainability” is about reaching net neutral, “regeneration” is about making things better. Better for the environment and better for the community.”Globetrender

Engage, learn and interact with the place you visit. Explore the natural area using your senses. What does the place look like? Sounds like? Can you make a positive impact on the place? Can you leave it better than you found it? A place might look better if you pick up plastic waste on the beach. Buying sourvenirs is often part of a travel experience. Check where souvenirs are made and how they are made before you buy them.

Journal your travel experience and explore ways to leave a positive impact on places you visit. What can you do?

And more importantly what is the best ice cream from a regenerative traveller’s perspective?

Link to Life Cycle Analysis of Ice Cream and blog post about Life Cycle Analysis.

Photo by Charles Parker on Pexels.com

Featured Photo by Daria Obymaha from Pexels

Why is Biodiversity important for Biomimicry

Fungi to flamingo, plants to animals – the variety of life on our planet is wonderful.

Biodiversity is the name we give to the variety of all life on Earth. The term is complex to grasp but it is this complexity that makes our planet the perfect place for us humans as well as plants, bacteria, fungi and animals.

We use the biodiversity in nature to make and create things but the biodiversity is also a source of information from which biomimicrists can draw inspiration. Without the species richness there would be little gems of seeds to spark ideas for biomimicrists.

Tropical rainforests and coral reefs are among the most diverse biomes on our plant and a wonderful source of inspiration. Yet the loss of biodiversity can speed up extinction and today around 1 million plants and animals face extinction. The more biodiversity there is the more stable an ecosystem is.

Climate change is a driver of loss of biodiversity but the loss of biodiversity also contributes to climate change. If we destroy forests, we emit carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change. Studying the environment and biodiversity goes hand in hand.

Looking at biodiversity in your own garden, choosing a local endangered species or focussing on a global threat to biodiversity are great ways to enhance awareness of the richness of our world and also what will happen if we lose it.

Why not make an action plan, a poster or a podcast where you promote your ideas to save biodiversity in your local area or . . .

 

Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI from Pexels

Looking for the booklet click here.

Biomimicry Invention Game – Intriguing Insects

Some projects take for ever but now the Insect Biomimicry Board Game is finished!

It is similar to the Mammal and Australian Board Game and the idea is to encourage children to play a non-competive game where the focus is on exploring insects and wild exciting ideas.

Photo By Quit007 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1433821

Turtle’s View are Fascinating – Book Tips for Nature Lovers

This book looks stunning. It has not been published yet but you can pre-order it.

“This beautiful book will help you explore the five oceans on our planet, meeting the creatures who live there and finding out just how their incredible surroundings work. From tides and currents, to migrations and conservation, see our oceans in action and learn how you can help to save them. This is a great follow-up to the very successful A Cat”s Guide to the Night Sky, as it introduces young readers to our oceans, the underwater wildlife and the natural phenomena that take place as well as discussing the challenges we”re currently facing and what we can do to help save our big blue world. The book contains a glossary and is suitable for children aged 6+.

Written by expert author Catherine Barr, who previously worked as the Greenpeace Sea Turtle campaigner, and with gorgeous artwork from celebrated illustrator Brendan Kearney, this is a must-have for all young readers.”

I am looking forward to reading this book, while I wait for the book about turtles to be published. Winter is the perfect time for stargazing.

“If you look up at the sky on a dark night, what do you see? There’s a whole universe staring back at you. In the company of Felicity the cat discover the phases of the moon, the constellations and how to spot the Northern Lights and the Milky Way.

This beautiful, fun book will introduce you to the beauty of the night sky and show you the stars like you’ve never seen them before.”

Photo by Daniel Torobekov from Pexels

Inspiring Books about Climate Changes for Curious Readers

Below is a selection of books about Climate Change that are perfect to use at home or in the classroom. Biomimicrists believe that it is vital to explore solutions to problems and the focus should always been on exploring how nature can inspire solutions and new innovations. Check out my materials for young children that focus on using nature as inspiration even for complex problems like climate change. The idea is to plant seeds of hope and inspire creative and critical thinking.

Climate Crises for Beginners by Andy Prentice and Eddie Reynolds illustrated by Primo Ramon

The climate crisis is real. It is already changing the world around us. This book uses simple language and vivid illustrations to explain complex questions clearly. How does the climate work? What are we doing to change it? What can we do differently to avoid the worst outcomes? Why do we all find change so hard? The climate crisis is a troubling and sensitive topic, especially for children, so the book includes vital tips on how to set realistic goals and not get overwhelmed by bad news.

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst

Tackle the plastic problem with Isatou Ceesay by recycling waste into beautiful objects. Marvel at the intelligence of chimpanzees with Jane Goodall. Learn why it’s important to shop fair trade and cruelty-free with Anita Roddick and The Body Shop. Resist devastating deforestation and plant seeds of change with Wangari Maathai.

We’re in an age when young people like Greta Thunberg are calling for those in power to ‘wake up’ and take action. But everyone has a part to play. Written with hope and encouragement, this book shows that all actions, big and small, can be powerful in the fight against climate breakdown.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Inspirational video – Pitcher plants inspires super-slippery materials

Would it not be nice to stop scrubbing every day?

How do you keep surfaces clean without using lots of water and chemicals? And how do you save time cleaning your house so that you can enjoy reading books?

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that have leaves that have been modified to trap prey. The pitfall traps are a deep cavity filled with liquid and the plants lure their prey with nectar down the trap.

The walls of pitcher plants is filled with a flaky, waxy substance that is rough. The plants prevent insects from escaping by clogging their feet with the substance.

Inspired by the Nepenthes pitcher plant, or monkey cups, the company spotLESS Materials has developed a spray that coats materials that makes them repel liquid, sludge, bacteria, mineral deposits, and more. The spray helps surfaces like toilets clean and it reduces the amount of water and cleaning chemicals needed to keep surfaces clean.

The peristome of the Nepenthes pitcher plant is extremely slippery when infused with water or nectar so the plant that catch and ingest insects that touch their surface of the plant peristome.

spotlessmaterials.com

Check out these resources perfect for young biomimicrists.

Photo By en:User:Rbrtjong – en:User:Rbrtjong, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1223936

Does it work? Biomimicry in Education

Happy New Year!

A New Year’s Day tradition is to watch Vienna Philharmonic Concert. At this year’s concert the guest conductor Riccardo Muti talks about joy, hope, peace, brotherhood, and “Love” with capital “L,”. The world needs to consider culture as one of the primary pre-measure elements to help build a better society in the future, he says.

Music, art and drama are vital ingredients that are often overlooked when it comes to ways to build a better society. During what seems like endless months of lockdowns, suspcious coughs and cold, I have returned to listening more to music and I have let ideas about how to use nature in the classroom rest a bit.

Just before Christmas I was asked to talk about Biomimicry in Education at the Université Côte d’Azur. The students studied Marine Biology and read a course about biomimicry. As part of the course some students have made a very engaging Biomimicry Game. Great idea!

After my short presentation, delivered via 2020s most popular technology Zoom, someone asked me if I thought that young students could come up with ideas.

The question made me reflect on the way I use nature to inspire kids to be creative and if Biomimicry really works.

To reflect on your ideas is always important and I have also thought about whether biomimicry really offers a way to help build a better society.

Feedback from teachers say that their students have really enjoy using the materials that I create, admittedly, not every teacher provides feedback. Most of my materials is open-structured and relies on allowing teachers and students to explore nature together by making obeservations, asking questions and using their observations to solve problems or create wonderous inventions.

Perhaps this approach is after all more adventurous than I think. Yet, for me it is one way to inspire kids to think as well as developing a love for nature. And teaching kids to think is vital and utlimately should always be one of the goals of teaching.

Why not introduce Biomimicry in your home or classroom in 2021?

The Big Book of the Blue

Wow, loved this book! A big surprised when the parcel arrived because I had not expected a Big Book! I know the clue is in the title but a book can be big in lots of different ways. And this is a book that is large in size as well as big on information. Perfect inspiration for budding biomimicrists and marine biologists.

Each page in this book by Yuval Zommer is filled with beautiful illustrations. You will love learning about flying fish, crabs, dophins, dragonets and other fish and living creatures that call our oceans their home.

The animals may have cartoon eyes so you might be tempted to thinking that this book is only for younger children. Yet, it is a very educational book brimming with interesting facts such as “Beak-like teeth help a pufferfish to prise open mussel and clam shells”.

Our heads were brimming with ideas after browsing around in this lovely book.

Warmly recommended!

Inspiration from a Snowy Owl

The pretty cool snowl owl are famous for being a bit magical. Harry Potter’s pet owl Hedwig proved over and over again that she was a bit better than the rest of the owls at the wizard’s school.

There are Paleolithic paintings in the Chauvet cave in France depicting owls alongside prehistoric lions and horses so we have always thought that owls are brilliant. The first painted owl might have been a horned owl but there are other examples of what might be the beautiful white bird.

Many animals adapt in different ways for the colder months. Snowy owls love winter and their white feathers on their feet look like fluffy slippers. The fluffy feets are perfect when you want to hunt on snowcovered and cold grounds. Males have lots of white feathers that protects them from the cold Arctic winds while the emales have darts of brown feathers. Many animals that live in a cold climate change dramatically, like the Artic Fox, but the snowy owls only get a little darker in spring and summer.

Like many animals the snow owls might need to change due the climate change. Less snow means that the stunning birds might stand out too much for the wrong reasons so perhaps they will develop darker plumage.

Snowy owls have special feathers that have fringes. This means that it is very difficult to hear them when they are hunting. They also have keen eyesight and great hearing, which help them to detect prey. The amazing owl’s wings have inspired inventions such as an effecient and quiet fan.

Snowy owls, like all animals have to work hard to survive, but animals also enjoy playing and relaxing. Love this video of a snowy owl enjoying a relaxing time on . One of my absolute favourite video 2020.

Snowy owls have yellow eyes and they prefer to hunt during the daytime. You can read more about the colours of owls’ eyes here. Fascinating!

Nature is an endless source of inspiration. Strategies, functions and design solutions developed for billions of years can be explored. Observering nature as well as collecting ideas and thoughts are a vital part of the biomimicry process. Inspired by Carla Sonheim we used watercolours to do some notetakings about snowy owls, see the featured pictured. We used the video below to help us draw a snowy owl.

You may also like Cool and Warm Ptamigan Sneaker Kit and Reindeer Challenge – Zero Waste Ideas for a Reindeer Party.

The Most Mesmerizing Books for Nature Loving Children

Here is some books about nature that caught our eyes. Books to be cherished for years and enjoying by the whole family. Books filled with prehistoric pets, strange looking animals and plants, lovely poems as well as mesmering spells.

Perfect Christmas gifts!

From the inspired pairing behind the award-winning The Lost Words comes a luminous hymn to nature and language adorned with Jackie Morris’s exquisite illustrations of beloved woodland creatures.

The sequel to bestselling The Lost Words is a wonderful treat filled with beautiful spell-poems and artwork by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.

Perfect for reading aloud the book summons back what is often lost from sight and care. Great for sharpening biomimicry observation skill. The books celebrates a sens of wonder and is fille dwith agical spells about Barn Owl, Red Fox, Grey Seal, Silver Birch, Jay and Jackdaw. Be amazed and filled with joy over the amazing natural world.

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Penguin Superpowers – Brillant Ways to Survive

Penguins like all animals and plants have developed brilliant ways to survive. Penguins can be found in a cold as well as a warm climate. And they deal with the climate challenges in different ways, penguin chicks in Antarctica learn to skate on the ice whereas Galápagos penguin chicks are masters of sliding on rocks.

Changes in our climate may turn penguins into climate refugees.

Changes in the climate could force the penguins to move, look for new types of food and search for new nesting habitats. Warming seas could change the abundance of penguins’ prey, resulting in changes in the composition of their diets. Many species of penguins nest on cold on dry snow but warming climate could result in rain, or prematurely melting snowfall, creating puddles on the ground. Chicks lacking rainproof feathers could become wet and die from hypothermia even if the place is warmer.

What superpowers would penguins need to survive? And what can we learn?

You find the booklet here and a bundle with climate change resources here.

You may also like Inspirational Video – How does a Penguin launch itself from the Sea? and Be inspired by Antarctic Ballet and Sliding Penguins.

A Life on Our Planet – David Attenborough

“We must rewild the world.”

David Attenborough’s latest book ” A Life on Our Planet – My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future” explores some of the most important challenges that face our planet. He writes about the changes that have taken place during his life and he describes some of the biggest mistakes that we have made.

Also, David has a strong message about hope for a brighter future and he explores ways that we can act now so that we can put it right.

I was happy to read that Biomimicry is mentioned as a way to find solutions to some of the problems that faces us.

”Biologist Janine Benysus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, wishing to provoke the new green approach to city planning, has set all cities a challenge. She suggests that, since a city occupies spaces that was once natural habit, it should at least equal that habitat in terms of the environmental services that it once provided – the solar energy it generated, the fertility it added to the sois, the volume of air it cleaned, the water it produced, the carbon that it captured and the biodiversity it hosted. Architects appear keen to take on her challenge.”

It is possible to acheive much more if we work together. Let’s start now.

An important book. Warmly recommended.

New Challenges, New Adventures

The dream was to write a series of books about Theo & Tuva and now the outline for the second book is taking shape. 2020 has been a year filled with challenges, new challenges, but also old familiar problems have been lurking in the background. Greta Thunberg and young climate activistists have not given up and they provide inspiration for characters new adventures.

Thanks to human-caused climate change, countless plants and animals will need to move in order to survive. Climate migration may be disruptive for humans but many animals and plants will not have the options that are open to us.

Svalbald is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. Theo & Tuva marvel at the untouched arctic wilderness and unique wildlife with polar bears and seals while they reflect on the impact of climat change. They will visit the seed vault that is designed to protect the world’s plant life.

Plants adapted to living in the Artic may be in real trouble. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other places on Earth and plants there will not be able to move further north to find new places to grow where there is no competions by shrubs and trees that have adapted to the warmer temperatures. The plants can try to migrate up to the mounsides but eventually they will reach the top or simply run out of land and reach the Arctic Ocean.

How can we help the plants?

Plants have developed surviving strategies for millions of years and if we loose them we might lose the insight to wonderful and useful solutions to problems. Plants are an essential source of food and medicines and we simply to do know the value of many of the different species. So saving plants is vital for our own survival and if we loose plants due to climate change we may loose species that are valuable to us.

A revolutionary insight from the early 1800s came to the the explorer Alexander von Humboldt while he was climbing the soaring Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo in 1802.

“Not long after his descent from the mountain,” Appenzeller writes, “he sketched a spectacular diagram that used the slopes of Chimborazo to depict a concept that had crystallized during his climb: that climate is an organizing principle of life, shaping the distinct communities of plants and animals found at different altitudes and latitudes. Two centuries later, that idea is giving scientists an intellectual framework for understanding how human-driven climate change is transforming life. “

Here’s von Humboldt’s illustration:

Alexander von Humboldt's Tableau Physique

In an 1807 illustration of the volcanoes Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in Equador, Alexander von Humboldt mapped vegetation living at different elevations. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Plenty of things to explore and ponder about. Yet it important to provide hope for children. I read an article the other day about the impact of environmental books on children. There has been a boom in books about plastic waste, endangered widllife, eco-warriors, and climate change. Many of these books inspire action rather than despair and many children are genuinely interested in climate change and envioronmental issues, even young children.

The wonderful thing about biomimicry is that the focus is an finding creative solutions to problems or to invent wonderful things.

Biomimicry is an awesome way to capture children’s imagination without terrifying them away from enviromental issues.

Photo by Анна Хазова from Pexels

Books that Inspire Creative Thinking and Environmental Responsibility

“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” Greta Thunberg

Here is two great books that will inspire kids to be environmentally responsible. The books can be used as a stepping stone for discussions about how to use biomimicry to help us create a more sustainable future.

The books focus on different aspects of saving the planet and taking environmental responsibility.

A Symphony of Whales

This book is based on an actual event. Read about how Glashka and her people come to understand what really matters in life. Glasha disover thousands of whales trapped in a freezing inlet och it is up to her to gather people of her town to help the pod.

A couple of days ago hundreds of pilot whales stranded on a beach in Tasmania, Australia. Use this to further explore compassion and teamwork.

Ada’s Violin

The Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation. The true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay sends an important and strong message about recyling.

Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but there was never any option for poor children until the music teacher Favio Chávez arrives. He gave the children instruments made from materials found in the trash. Such a wonderful idea – an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

Recycling is a great idea, yet, it is becoming more and more clear that it is not enough.

More recycling doesn’t always mean more sustainability or less emissions.Zero Waste Europe

Explore ways that nature uses materials. Natures upcycles rather than recycle materials.

“In nature, one organism’s waste or decomposing body becomes a source of food and materials for other organisms. While we talk about “recycling,” “upcycling” is a more accurate description of what happens in nature.” Biomimicry Org

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

Beachcombing – Bladderwrack!

Ahh, at last the smell of sea!

Spent some lovely days last week beachcombing. Lots of shells, most of them tiny, glittering in the sand on the tidal shore. Also, lots of sea weed that looked like bubble wrap with their distinctive air bubbles. The air sacks are known as air bladders, which give the algae its name – bladderwrack.

Bladder wrack has round air bladders/bubbles.

Why does the seaweed have these air bubbles?

It is always an eye-opener to spend time quietly, observing nature. Shared discoveries on the beach gives the greatest pleasure. An important part of developing curiosity and a love for nature. A curious child feels safe to explore questions. A secure child will be excited with the wonders of nature. And she or he will explore and ask hundreds of questions.

Making a drawing of treasures found at the beach can help a child develop a deeper understanding. Drawing makes you look closely and discover things that you might have missed before.

Sea weed like bladder wrack provides shelter for many different creatures and it is also a source of food. The air bubbles helps the algae exhange gases and absorb nutrients when submerged.

While sketching a drawing, wonderful ideas of how we could use air bubbles might emerge. Like a a floating device.

Today, there is an enormous need to develop sustainable solutions. Initial ideas can be explored to ensure that they use sustainable resources in the production, that they are transported in a sustainable way. Innovations and solutions to problems should help us create a better future for all living creatures on Earth.

An idea that emerged inspired by our beachcombing was floating roundish solar panels that collect energy in the water, maybe even wave energy. The energy is sent to our homes via tiny strings. Live seaweed materials are used to constuct these special solar and wave panels.

Love to hear about your ideas. . .

Biomimicry Ballet

Meet the photographer to the book Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva”- Ann-Margrethe.

Here she practising “Biomimicry Ballet”. A wonderfully healthy way to experience nature while pondering over ideas inspired by nature.

That children who understand nature are better at taking care of it is perhaps not so strange. Some children lack experience of nature and then nature becomes frightening instead of a source of inspiration and a quiet peaceful place for recovery.

Biomimicry is a fantastic tool for making young people understand the secrets of nature. Spending time in the garden, a park or the forest is a wonderful way to stop and reflect. Use the inspiration to play with ideas. Developing sustainable innovations inspired by nature is necessary for our survival.

Under a Log!

“I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of…”

A cold but sunny September morning.

The first day of Autumn, at least in meteorological terms, but the changes in the natural world such as the fantastic colourful autumn leaves display may still wait.

A perfect time to study unique microhabitats where you live – under bushes, on stony path or under a log or big branch.

Listen to Arvolyn Hill as she explores the habitat that formed under a log in a garden in the Bronx. I love the promts that are used when exploring life under a log. All you need to add is a prompt, a biomimicry prompt to spark ideas.

How can the observations be used to invent something magical, useful and sustainable? Or solve a problem?

For more ideas about how to use nature observationts to prompt ideas check out the book Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas.

Transforming Education, Treasures and Great Nature Books

I picked the chestnuts on the street while walking my dog this morning. Autumn is almost here and the dark couds that covered the sky promised rain. Heavy rain.

The horse chestnut is a stunning tree that is originally native to the mountains of northern Greece and Albania. It was introduced to the UK in the late 16th century. I love the hand-shaped, palmate leaves with five to seven toothed leaflets and its spiny-shelled fruits, the conkers. They are like magical treasures carefully hiding their secrets.

Both sweet chestnut and horse chestnut contain the word nut but what is hidden inside the spiky coverings is actually a seed. A nut is defined as an enclosed seed with a hard uter shell that does not open naturally to release the seed. Last year we grow physalis in the garden, also called cape gooseberries, they have a fruit with multiple seeds. After the seeds have released the latern skeletons remain on the plant. A fun fruit to gow with children. Planning for next year’s season have already started!

Noticing little things in your neighbourhood is a great way to spark an interest in nature and biomimicry.

Yesterday I listened to another Biomimicry Fireside Chats. This time the theme was Transforming Education: Fostering Students’ Connection with Nature.

Several links to books that can be used to encourage an interest in biomimicry was mentioned in the chat. Here are a couple that I have added to my wish list for this autumn.

While I browsed around for books I found this which looks great. . . and reminded me of a blog post on Sparking Children’s Thinkiblity. Check it out.

Inspiring Endangered Birds – Biomimicry and Biodiversity

Why is biodiversity important? How to increase biodiversity using BIOMIMICRY?

In the film, The Birds produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock the focus is on a series of sudden and unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California. A classic horror film, however, the true horror is perhaps a world without birds.

My newest resource for Google Classroom uses endangered birds as inspiration. This is not the first time that I have used endangered animals or plants as inspiration for ideas. Using endangered animals or plants as inspiration for ideas highlights the importance of protecting nature.

Bird diversity is important. Biodiversity is the total variety of all life on Earth. Why is greater biodiversity a good thing? The more biodiversity the more secure is all life on Earth including ourselves.

“The total biodiversity on our planet is immense.” David Attenborough

Yet, many species are endangered.

“Over 1,450 bird species are considered globally threatened because they have small and declining populations or ranges. Of these, 222 are Critically Endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. Threatened birds are found throughout the world, but are concentrated in the tropics and especially in forests. Population declines may be quick and catastrophic, but even small increases in mortality can threaten the survival of some species.” Bird Life International

Even if biodiversity is seen as a solution and every species is a source of potentially untapped information, we still need to use a creative as well as a critical approach to thinking and creative tools to tap into the knowledge of nature. There is no ready solution that will lead to an instant solution.

Some biomimicry solutions have not been sustainable, for example, the velcro has contributed to the environment mostly in the form of non-biodegradable landfills.

The story of the magnificent flightless fat parrot, Kakapo, offers hope. The bird is critically endangered but intense intervention in every stage of the bird’s life has to lead to an increase in numbers. It was on the brink of extinction in the min 1990s when there were only around 50 birds.

The bird is nocturnal and exploring the way kakapos move around in the darkness can lead to some interesting ideas. They have a jog-like gait and they parachute to the ground from high trees using their wings (they cannot fly). Kiwi, another flightless bird, lacks wings, but the kakapos have wings. The feathers are softer than the feathers of other parrots as they do not need to be strong for flying.

What cool things can you invent inspired by Kakapos? Can you make sure that the invention is sustainable?

Project Based Learning GOOGLE Classroom™, Endangered Birds, Biomimicry

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48081940

Summer Reading – Books for Curious Minds

Hurry out to sun with a pile of books. Or cuddle up on the sofa while you watch raindrops siding down the window panes at the same time as you flick through pages filled with exquisite and colourful fungi, animals and plants.

Some books about nature that caught our eyes. Perfect books for lazy summer’s days.

I hope you find something interesting. Enjoy!

Inspiration for Biomimicry Story – Pink Fairy Armadillo

Pink fairy armadillo!

The smallest of the armadillo family is a fascinating species that like so many animals on our planet is endangered. The animal is nicknamed sand digger and according to stories it can”burrow through the ground as fast as a fish can swim in the sea”. It might be difficult to believe that this cute looking animal exists, it looks like a weasel dressed in an ice cream cone!

The Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armoured one” and the salmon-coloured pink fairy armadillo with its sharp claws is the perfect inspiration for a character in a biomimicry story. Writing a biomimicry inspired story is a great way to explore functions and gain deeper insight into an animal’s lives and special adaptations.

Identifying the function is at a core when you engage in biomimicry with young children. Creating a creature build of different animals may help a young child to explore how special pink fairy armadillos digging skills are. They are nocturnal and spend their nights burrowing in the sands of central Argentina with their enormous claws. They pat the sand behind them into a compact tunnel with a butt plate that resembles a spatula.

Create your own character for story or comic strip.

What is its name?

What kind of habitat will it live in?

What problems is the character facing?

What things can you invent inspired by the creature?

Facts about Pink Fairy Armadillo

The armadillo is about 9 cm to 11.5 cm long and it is so tiny that it fits into your hand. The pink fairy armadillo lives in Argentina and other areas in South America. It is threatened by destruction of its habitat and by domestic dogs who can break their shell.

Armadillos has bony plates that cover their back, head, legs, and tail. They are the only living mammals that wear such shells. The shells are made of bony plates that grow in the skin. The shell protects them from thorny shrubs where they like to hide from predators. Armadillos have provided inspiration for body armour. Yet, the shell is perhaps not like an armour since it can easily break if a predator gets to them. The shell works more like a hard-shelled suitcase.

They have tiny eyes and rely on hearing and touch to navigate. The pink fairy armadillo has large claws that are so big that it is hindering their ability to walk on hard surfaces.

You may also like Build a Character and Jelly Bean Frog Story Writing and Robos

Invent the Room – Sustainability & Biomimicry

I have spent sunny days in the garden reading the excellent Engineering Education for the Next Generation by Samuel Cord Stier, who is the executive director of The Center for Learning with Nature. This book together with wild gardening books, Wild Your Garden and Wildlife Gardening, provided the basis for the ideas about bringing sustainability into the classroom or home.

Sustainability is rarely explored in the lower grades, yet, I think it can be introduced by using engaging activities that provide children with hope for the future while at the same time inspire a love and fascination for nature. Nature produces materials without mining, produces power without pollution, and reuses materials. Children can learn from nature and develop strategies to design a world that is long-lasting.

This project-based learning unit is inspired by the popular “Write the Room”. The idea behind “Invent the Room” is to provide students with opportunities to explore the objects in the room from a sustainability and biomimicry perspective.

Children are asked to carry out a Life Cycle Analysis of an object in the room. Then the task is to make the production, transportation and disposal of the thing more sustainable. Included in the resource are inspirations about how to use animals and plants to design or invent things.

Perfect for exploring the classroom, in school or at home. Engaging science resource to welcome students back to school.

Dandelions – Doing it Nature’s Way

A plant revealing its wonderous secrets!

Picking a Dandelion head, making a wish and blowing the puff into the air, watching as the little white fluff float away on a light breeze is a lovely way to experience a bit a nature’s magic taking place.

Many people regard the dandelions as weed but it can also be seen as a wildflower since it grows in the wild. Dandelions are rich in pollen and nectar and provide a great source of food for pollinators such as bees and bumblebees. The flowers provide food for beetles and butterflies, while the seeds are cheerished by many birds.

The bright cheerful yellow flowers, the amazing seed clocks, and the strong hollow stalks can provide inspiration for ideas.

A project involving dandelions is perfect at this time of the year. And perfect if you are homeschooling your children due to the coronavirus.

Take out the magnifying glasses and marvel at pappus.

Our book “Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas” has a chapter dedicated to Dandelions. The first section of each little chapter is a fictional story where the children, Theo and Tuva, make an observation. In the second section, there are facts about an animal or plant. The third section contains a prompt to use the observation to solve a problem or invent something inspired by the observation. This book works well with the resource below about Dandelions.

Click here to read more about Dandelions.

What happended when we all stopped

I’ve often considered it strange that the most intellectual creature ever to walk the earth is destroying its only home. This wonderful story, What Happened When We All Stopped, helps parents and their children to overcome the disconnect between our clever brains and our loving compassionate hearts. We must find a way of living in harmony with nature so that both may thrive. I hope this story book inspires people of all ages to play their part in healing the harm we have inflicted so that together we can create a new future.” Jane Goodall

Listen to this beautiful animted poem read by Jane Goodall. The poem exlores how the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of living in harmony with nature.

Go here to read the book for free.

Hummingbird Whisperer – Inspirational Videos

Irresitable Rufous Hummingbirds trust Maise.

Migrating rufous hummingbirds are famous for their extraordinary flight skills. The hummingbirds remember feeders and flowers along the way to their breeding grounds. Due to climate change, many flowers that the birds feeds on during the breeding season have started blooming prior to the birds’ arrival. The rufous may arrive to late to feed on the flowers.

Rufous hummingbirds have remarkable memory so they remember feeders/flowers along the way. They avoid flowers that they recently alredy emptied and those that were empty.

But can they remember faces?

Maise lives on Vancouver Island and she loves hummingbirds. Below are a couple of beautiful videos of Maise and hummingbirds. Perfect vidoes to capture kids’ interest in these remarkable birds. Go here to learn more about hummingsbirds.

Photo: By USFWS Mountain-Prairie – Rufous hummingbird at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74758338

Utopian Glimmer – Covid-19

On Monday, 1st June, some pupils in the UK will return to school after the lockdown due to coronavirus. Lots of thoughts and worries but listening to Janine Benyus talk about the “great pause” as she calls the lockdown offer a vision of utopian glimmer in the darkness. The lockdown due to the coronavirus has provided us with time for not only reflection but also opportunity to think and ask questions.

“Viruses are all around us. In a square meter, 800 million viruses a day fall from the sky. They are a hugely important part of our world and our evolution. But these pandemics happen when the natural defences are broken. [Meanwhile] climate change is just putting everything under stress. So, we’ve got this natural system that is out of kilter.” Janine Benyus

Ecological collapse and climate change are two conditions that have created a greater risk of global pandemics. Nature is sending us all a message and exploring these message from biomimicry lens can offer hope.

Janine says: “We’re seeing a bit of utopian glimmer coming through, and natural selection chooses what works over and over. So, when we get back to normal, we get this glorious choice to put back in our lives only what is best, only what we found made life worth living.”

The video is long, but offer great material for discussions about asking questions about how our future.

I love this way of expressing a new way forward.

“We’re saying, ‘Let’s make ourselves as small as possible and not harm anything around us.’ But let’s break that open and say, ‘Let’s put the wellness not just inside our homes, but outside the walls,’ How can we go from meeting our own needs to doing what other organisms do, which is hailing goodness and benefit to everything around us?”

What does it mean to put wellness out the walls?

Can you imagine how cities will function after the pandemic?

Llamas, Biomimicry and Viruses

Will the llamas become heroes in the fight against covid-19?

Llamas are gorgeous looking animals that have caputured many hearts with their soulful big eyes, funny haircut and velvety snout. The fluffy gentle giants have also attracted the attention of scientists studying antibodies.

The remarkable antibodies of camelids, llamas, camels and alpacas, has been studied since 1989 when the benefits were first discovered at the Univerisity of Brussels. The antibodies in llamas blood have proved to be effective against a viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Today, some scientists are hopeful that the antibodies found in llamas blood can help to neutralise the coronaviruses’ spike protein. This is the portion that attacks other healthy cells.

I made a resource about viruses and a perfect addition could be a project about llamas (this idea is not included in the resource).

Photo: By kallerna – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75377829

Nature Drawing and Biomimicry Journaling

Our gardens, parks and forests are filled with wonders and beauty. Breathtaking wildlife and beautiful plants that give us life, it’s important to understand our world and nature drawing and biomimicry journaling give children an opportunity to enhance their understanding and appreciation of our earth.

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling provides great inspiration and will help children to become more attentive biomimicrists.

There are lessons to enhance curiosity and to sharpen the observation skills when it comes to everything from drawing mushroom to wildflowers to insects and skies.

Read more about Biomimicry Journaling here.

Fluttering Beauties – Biomimicry & Butterflies

I love to mix art and science! Biomimicry is a great opportunity to take out art supplies.

Spring is the perfect time to study butterflies. With their colourful wings and gentle fluttering, it is easy to understand why they are such a welcome sign of Spring. The arrival of butterflies is also an important measure of the effects that changes in climate have on our wildlife.

Drawing an animal or plant can provide a deeper understanding. An engaging way to learn.

Inspired by the wonderful book The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone, we decided to “butterfly out” and to take a book with a photo of butterfly outside and find a flower for the butterfly to sit on, then draw it. We made a quick sketch focusing on recording what we see, rather than trying to draw the flower accuratetly. Such fun!

This drawing exercise works well with bees, and why not find the perfect branch for a bird?

Looking for inspirtion for a biomimicry project on butterflies or moths?

Reconnecting with Nature

“We believe that the widespread adoption of nature-inspired solutions will catalyze a new era in design and business that benefits both people and the planet. Let’s make the act of asking nature’s advice a normal part of everyday inventing. We hope you will join us.” Biomimicry Institute

This year has been filled with changes and many of us have kids staying at home because the schools are closed. We might have to work from home or restrict the number of times we go out each day. A visit to nature is something that might not be possible, but there are other ways that we can reconnect with nature. The Biomimicry Institute has made a wonderful list with activities that may help you find new ways to connect with nature.

I have not had the time or energy to test any of the activities yet but I will try the game Day 10: AskNature April Fools’ — Two Truths, One Lie.

Sounds like a fun game and I hope you have the time to try it too!

Take care and stay safe!

 

 

A Memorable Experience

Biomimicry education should be a memorable experience!

Several different approaches can be used to inspire children to explore nature and to feel excited about solving problems or inventing things. You can read books such as “How an Idea from Nature Changed Our World” by Dorna Schroeter and explore how biomimicry can be used to solve an annoying problem. Children will love reading about how Swiss engineer, Georges de Mestral, invented Velcro.

You can also invite a scientist working in the biomimicry field to the classroom.  Children can ask questions and gain important insights into how ideas from nature can be developed into exciting innovations or how they can help to solve tricky problems. There is also a wide selection of videos that can be used to show children how ideas of nature have resulted in great innovations.

Yet, I think nothing really beats engaging in biomimicry yourself.

Allowing children time to ponder and explore nature, whether it is outside or inside reading or watching a video, and to turn this observation into a toy, robot, household equipment or a way to help a friend or family member to overcome a problem is a wonderful experience. Biomimicry education should be a memorable experience and nothing can be more exciting than the thrill of a brilliant idea!

girl-wearing-eyeglasses-smelling-flowers-1634915

Project based learning perfect for homeschooling

Small, colourful and spectacular! Hummingbirds are beautiful and strong. They provide the perfect inspiration for great ideas!

A wonderful way to keep schoolchildren happy and engaged at home as well as ensuring that they are continuing their learning is to start a project. Project-based learning is an engaging way to spark an interest in a topic and to be creative. Core curriculum such as Maths and English is a priority but often they can be included in a project.

Just before the coronavirus shutdown of schools around the world, I made a Biomimicry resource about Hummingbirds. This resource is made for the Google classroom and can be used for homeschooling.

closeup-photography-of-humming-bird-929383

There are so many interesting things that can be used to inspire children to solve problems or invent new things. Hummingbirds hovering and their wing structure is immensely interesting. Their tongue and the way they are feeding can spark lots of fun ideas.

Why not build a city inspired by the way hummingbirds build a nest? Or build a hummingbird robot?

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Inspirational Video – Ferrets

What everyday problem could a body like a ferret solve?

Love all the wonderful ideas that pop up while you watch this video of a ferret in slow motion. Like magic the ferret lowers and stretches itself out, making its body 30% longer. This helps they when they are running through small tunnels.

Amazingly they loose almost no speed when travelling through small tunnels. There bodies are designed to switch the shape when they are running in tunnel.

Ferrets hunt in burrows that are tight and twisted. They bend their bodies up to 180 degrees, both vertically and horizontally.

For Google Classroom – Biomimicry, Manatees & Dugongs

When I started making Biomimicry resources I had a vision of what I wanted them to look like. Google Classroom has made it possible to get a bit closer. Still, some ideas that I would like to include. Things can always be improved.

Edward de Bono said, “Good But Not Enough”!

Mantees and dugongs make a perfect topic for a project-based learning unit. It is easy to fall in love with these beautiful creatures.

The wonderful thing with Google Classroom is that you can use videos. Perfect way to bring nature study into the classroom and to allow kids to study functions, behaviour and structures in detail. Perfect way to feel inspired!

I have previously written about dugongs, go here to read the blog posts.

You find the slides here.

Board Game

Made another board game! Similar to the one with mammals but this time the theme is Australia.

Games are an educational tool that is underestimated. They are engaging and fun.

Nevertheless, I like the idea of games that at its core is non-competetive. And this Biomimicry Invention Board Game is more about ideas and exploring wild thoughts.

The invention quilt also highlights the importance of working together. A colourful quilt makes a beautiful display at home or in the classroom.

You fid the game at TpT and at the Australian The Wheel.

Biomimicry, Bushfires and Wombats

Wombats are one of Australia’s most loved marsupials, but they are often misunderstood. In children’s books they are described as slow and clumsy, yet, they can actually run faster than a human or dog over a short distance.

Muddle-headed wombats! No, they are quick to learn and they have adapted to their life underground. However, the stories about heroic wombats herding other animals to saftey into their fire-proof burrows are not true. Nevertheless, wombats may have helped many animals during the recent bushfires in Australia. It might not have been their intention, but their burrows provide a safe refuge underground.

Wombats dig large warrens, and the networks of interconnecting burrows have temperatures are very stable compared to surface temperatures. Daily temperature fluctuations can be less than 1° Celsius as compared to 24 degrees on the surface. The coolish burrows would be great help during fires so many small mammals use wombat burrows to hide from the flames.

Wombats do not have one burrow, instead they have multiple burrows, one study found a wombat with 14 different burows. The warrens can have several entrances and can consist of almost 100 metres of tunnels.

But surviving fire is only half the battle. The food in a landscape barren after a bush fire is scare and it is vital to avoid predators.

“Down a burrow, dug in deep.

A wombat curled up, fast asleep.

In other tunnels big and round

Other creatures can be found.” Bushfire by Tricia Oktober

Earth sheltering is sustainable approach to building houses. Design a house or a suburb or town inspired by wombats. For inspiration check out this these designs.

Happy and creative thinking!

Photos: Common Wombat

Wombat burrow and scat, Narawntapu National Park, Tasmania

Bushfires and Biomimicry

A dangerous summer is unfolding in Australia and so far millions, even billions animals have lost their lives in raging bushfires. Bushfires are common in Australia so animals and plants have developed various ways to survive and reproduce.

This year, the bushfires are not normal, hundreds of fires are burning and the links to climate change are clear. Heartbreaking videos of animals fleeing, dead birds washed up on beaches as well as severly injured koalas and kangroos!

Perhaps the most important thing that the biomimicry approach has taught me is to explore possible solutions using nature as inspiration. It is simply not good enough to be sad! Never give up! So the idea for a new resource was born this week.

I found my daughter’s book “Bushfire” by Tricia October in the bookshelves a couple of months ago, so I suppose the ideas have been twirling around for a while. Anyway, started to work on it now! Below is a poster.

The poster is available for free download here. Like most of my biomimicry booklets, it takes time to write them and at the moment I am simply reading about the bush!

How to foster students’ love of learning, creative thinking and desires to improve the world

Bring nature and curiosity into your classroom!

Learning is more fun and memorable when you are encouraged to ask questions and solve engaging problems. By inspiring your students to explore biomimicry you provide them with an opportunity to be amazed by the natural world. Biomimicry offers an opportunity to explore strategies and look for patterns in nature, and to mimic them to design your own solutions to a problem.

Students learn 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.

Step out of the classroom or watch some nature videos

Viable solutions to issues can be found by applying nature’s strategies. Bio means life, and mimicry means to mimic life and nature.

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. Search for local heroes in the schoolyard. By studying the collective intelligence of ants working together in the schoolyard ideas about how to work together in the classroom to accomplish more can be explored.

What if you were a caterpillar? You may hear students talk about how caterpillars can squeeze through tiny crack and how they can climb upside-down under a leaf. 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.

There are amazing videos that can be used in the classroom to study how an echidna finds its way in the dark water despite its habit of folding up his eyes, ears, and nostrils within his skin when he dives. Or you can study how a ladybird unfolds its wings in slow motion.

Passion for questions

Biomimicry is not aimed at learning the names of animals 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?

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.

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 schools 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?

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 of their ideas.

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.

Below it an example from a freebie about Giraffes. You can start by exploring how biomimicry has been used by car manufacturers to design a car using the boxfish as inspiration. The shape of the boxfish was believed to improve aerodynamics as well as stability.

Randomness is at the heart of creative thinking and here it is used to spark ideas. The suggestions are not random, rather there are suggestions that can be used to invent something based upon observations of giraffes, see the poster. A way of scaffolding the students to be creative. There is also an option where the students can explore their own ideas.

The observations in the poster explore functions that can be used to explore ideas, innovate and solve problems.

Note, this blog post has been published at The Wheel, where you also find the Freebie and other of my resources. The Wheel is based in Australia and it gives me great pleasure to find my resources there. I have left my heart in many places and Australia is one.

2020! Biomimicry an emerging trend!

Embrace the trend! Start 2020 with spending time in nature and ponder!

Trendy!

Biomimicry is an emerging trend that is slowly but surely entering the business world, universities as well as the classroom.

It may not always be easy to embrace biomimicry. Yet, it is a wonderful feeling to search for exciting solutions to problems and to step outside the box. To use a walk in the forest, local park or the schoolyard as a stepping stone to consciously study animals, fungi and plants require a great dollop of patience.

Biomimicry is a way to make children aware of that by caring for Earth and all of life, we care for ourselves. A fantastic superidea that will lead to improvements in our health or to a way to reduce environmental problems may be waiting to be discovered in nature. Thus, it becomes important to safeguard animals and plants when you see a greater picture and appreciate nature and what we can learn by investigating and discovering its secrets. Nature develops and does not stand still, but for millions of years animals and plants have learned from their less good ideas.

“Children and young people have an amazing ability to associate, fantasise and come up with solutions. That’s what we try to use and stimulate further through our first book. Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas.”

Seven Worlds, One Planet – Inspirational videos

Funny, beautiful, excting, sad and heartbreaking. The BBC’ s Seven Worlds One Planet has it all! A celebration of the diversity of life on each of the seven continents nearth, but also a hunting look into the challenges faced by animals in a modern world.

Narrated by David Attenborough this is a real treat. And the book looks like a perfect gift.

My head is buzzing with ideas after having spent today watching 5 episodes! What ideas do you get when you watch these videos?

Photo: By Paul IJsendoorn – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ijsendoorn/379148971/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1728777

Particle Robot – Inspirational videos

Particle robots, working as a an oscillating group do not have any need for centralised control. The particle robots change their rhythms based on how intense a nearby light is shining.

Robots that work together in this way could move through different types of environments, even places that they have never visted before. Working together as an oscillating group means that they to not need to plan, or come up with a strategy. They can be flexible and adapt to the new envrioment in real time.

Clusters of particle robots do not need to be organised in a particular shape to work. Instead they can just like clusters of cells move as a blob without any clearly defined shape or form.

Nature, Invention, Biomimicry Books & Games

Books make a wonderful gift!

Books are one of my biggest weaknesses. I love thin books, thick books, adult’s book, children’s books, picture books and books with nothing but words!

Here is a list of books that inspires us to look at nature. The books may challenge us to invent things, solve problems, dream and build wonderfully weird things. For extra fun I have added some great games.

{Post contains affiliate links}

  1. Everything you need for a treehouse
  2. Look at Me
  3. What do you do with a tail like this?
  4. Evolution
  5. My crazy innovations sketchbook
  6. The little inventors handbook
  7. Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas
  8. Porqupine quills to needles
  9. Climate
  10. Drawn from nature
  11. Wild buildings and bridges
  12. An egg is quite
  13. A book of rather strange animals
  14. A beetle is shy
  15. Strange trees
  16. Animals of a bygone era
  17. Flora
  18. Botanicum
  19. Nature Journal
  20. Animalium
  21. The big book of bugs

Inspirational Autumnlicious & Spooktacular Videos – Spiders, Bats, & Owls

Flying bats, owls and even spiders. Be amazed and feel inspired by these wonderful creatures and use them as inspiration for wonderful imaginative Halloween creations. Move away from the plastic toys and costyms, and celebrate the wonder of nature this Hallween.

If you serach for spiders, bats and owls in the serach box, there are blog posts with ideas.

Peacock Spider 13

How Spiders Use Electricity to Fly

Spider Shoots 25 Metre Web

To the Bat Cave!

The Case For Vampire Bats

The Tube-Lipped Nectar Bat

What Makes Owls So Quiet and So Deadly?

You’ve Never Seen an Owl Species That Does This

Which Animals Have Night Vision?

Moss Green Shades & Mimic Stick Insect

“A world that shimmers in different moss green shades can be as beautiful as a colourful coral reef.” Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas

Theo & Tuva are exploring nature in the warm spring sun, on warm summer days when the rain is pouring down, when the snow sparkles and on beautiful autumn days.

The green mosscarpet are hiding wonderful secrets. Yet, it is so easy to miss the moss when it is growing everywhere in the garden, the forest, or on old park benches.

Biomimicry is a way to use nature as inspriation and to learn from nature to solve problems. The book about Theo & Tuva aims to inspire nature spotting and to use these in a creative way.

Mosses are perfect air purifiers and exhaust detectors. How would you design a school inspired by moss?

But moss can also flutter in the wind! Perfect inspiration for a poem or story.

The video below was taken by late Andreas Kay in the rainforest of Ecuador. It shows the exquisite stick insect (Trychopeplus thaumasius). The mossy moves starts at around 33 seconds and they are are a treat!

You can find his amazing videos here.


Hedgehog in the Fog!

Cold and misty morning! Perfect day for watching this 1975 film based on the story Hedgehog in the Fog by Russian children’s writer Sergey Kozlov.

A hedgehog walks through the night to visit his friend, a bear cub. It is not easy to find your way in a dense forest, and the little hedgehog gets lost in the fog. With the help of mysterious strangers he finds his way to comfort of tea, raspberyy jam and stargazing. A beautiful melancholic tale about taking risks, overcoming fear, and wonder.

Eng subtitles.

And the book . . . is stunning. The illustrations by Francesca Yarbusova by are superb.

Review of the book “Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature Spotting Inspires Wild Ideas” by Asa Jomard

I would like to thank Natursidan.se and Erik for the review of my book. Go here to read the review.

I hope this inspires you to have a look at the book. So far I have sold a couple of copies to the US and Japan! And the Sweden version is doing well!

Climate Change and Biomimicry

Can we capture carbon using plants and animals as strategic tools in our climate toolbox?.

The global climate is changing, and the focus is often on decreasing the output of greenhouse gases via technologies or ideas such carbon offset or carbon taxes. Yet, reducing the emission of carbon is only one idea. We could accelerate the removal of excessive carbon dioxide from the atmopshere. The excessive carbon should be stored somewhere else. Plant photosynthesis does that, plants remove CO2 and release oxygen to the air. The carbon is captured in roots, plant stems, leaver and humus.

Bats! Bats! Bats!

Big fruit bats, vampire bats with razor sharp teeth, and the cutest fluffy white bat with yellow ears, and an interesting leaf-shaped nose.

In the latest biomimicry booklet I slipped by accident into medical applications inspired by nature. And it was the Hoduran white bat that sparked the initial idea.

Honduran white bat has the ability to store a yellow pigment called lutein in its ears and nose. Yellow pigments play significant roles in human health, particularly the health of eyes. Studying this cute tent-making bat may lead to insights into how to use these yellow pigments to prevent macular degeneration. Macular diseasis a form of blindness – blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field.

Caring for the natural world is imporant for several reasons. And studying bats give students a chance to explore ways that bats are helping us. Bats have a bad reputation and they are linked to Halloween and Dracula. But bats are fascinating inspirational creatures and the world would be a lesser place without them – several species are endangered.

What do you do with a tail like this?

Invent a gliding suit or a robot inspired by sugar gliders. Or a new sport inspired by short tails.

What do You do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins is a striking book with intriguing facts. Explore amazing things that animals can do with their ears, eyes, noses, mouths, feet and tails!

The book is a guessing book that is beautifully illustrated by Robin Page in cut-paper collage.

Tails are great inspiration for ideas. A seahorse has a prehensile tail shaped like a square prism. A pig has a short tail and the quetzal has a striking long tail.

What ideas do you get?

Steven’s book Eye to Eye was one of the first book I used as inspiration when I got interested in Biomimicry (blog post Interesting Eyes).

You may also like: Eye to Eye and Look at Me!: How to Attract Attention in the Animal World.

A sad tree

“We need more talkative trees.”

Fairy tales have trees with human faces, trees that can talk and whisper, and sometimes even walk or fly.

Yet, trees are despite all their brilliant features easy to ignore. They grow slowly, really slowly, and even if deciduous trees shed their leaves and burst with new leaves each spring they are sometimes just there in the schoolyard, local park or garden.

In education, the focus is often on identifying different types of trees and describing the shapes of leaves, needles or cones. But our understanding of trees have the last couple of years really increased and The Hidden Life of Trees has revealed some amazing things.

Can trees talk? Trees make lots of noises. Branches creak as the rub against each other and the leaves rustle. But these sounds are caused by the wind and not the tree itself.

Trees communicate by using smell. They send out chemicals to warn predators. The acacia tree on the African savannah that are being eaten by a giraffe give off a warning gas that warns other neighbouring trees, so they immediately start pumping toxic substances into their leaves. The giraffes ignore the neighbouring trees and move to another area, or to an area where the wind had nor transported the message.

Are there sad trees?

Peter Wohllenben the author of the The Hidden Life of Trees says that the saddest trees have lost their ability to communicate. The saddest trees are found in agriculture.

What else would make a tree sad?

Well, isolated trees are sad. Trees like to share and connect with other trees. Tree have a do to list and they need to grow a little and lack of nutrients, water and sunlight makes them sad.

We are making a tree with leaves that are falling off. On each leaf, we are writing suggestions of things that can make a tree sad.

Tricky question? Can you always tell if a tree is sad? Can a tree still have green needles but not being healthy and growing? (Growth rings is a sign that a tree is growing.)

A sharp idea – Biomimicry

The forest is home for thousands of species, big animals like bears, and deer, and smaller animals like hedgehogs, porcupines and rabbits. Thousands of ways to explore possibilities and be inspired.

Porcupine Quills to Needles (21st Century Junior Library: Tech from Nature) by Jennifer Colby is a book in a series that aims towards providing children with skills that will help them to succeed in the 21st century. The series is about biomimicry, yippeee, and they are recommended for children in year 2 to 5. Perfect books filled with facts about animals or plants. There is also a description of an idea that has emerged from the observations of the animal or plant.

The book about porcupine is perfect to use with this booklet that I recently made. My booklet aims towards taking the learning a bit further and inspire children to ask their own questions based upon an observation and then use it to invent something themselves or solve a problem. So this is a perfect match.

In my booklet, children are asked to compare the spines of hedgehogs with the porcupine quills. They can invent a helmet inspired by hedgehogs or look for a sharp idea inspired by porcupines.

Happy thinking!

Woodland – Lapbook, STEAM, Biomimicry Tpt

Woodland – Lapbook, STEAM, Biomimicry TES

Photo Porcupine

A summer filled with the sound of squirrels! – Sound Mapping

Sound is important when you are birding or bat spotting, but we can learn a lot about nature from closing our eyes and focusing on distinguishing signals. Our garden has this summer been bursting with the sounds of squirrels playing the trees. If we focused, we could hear them jumping from one branch to the next.

Lots of questions twirl around in your head when you close your eyes and listen.

  • Is it one squirrel?
  • Is it two squirrels chasing each other?
  • Was that an unripe apple falling off the tree?
  • Was the squirrel responsible for the unripe apple falling off the tree?

We have been trying to figure out whether there are kittens hiding somewhere in the birch tree, but we are not sure . . . it is very tricky to spot baby squirrels since they do not leave their nest until they are big and furry. This means that it is very difficult to tell the

Using your biomimicry journal you can write down the sounds. You can make a map of your garden or area in the local park and mark out all the sounds you can hear. How are the sounds related to each other?

Tasmania – Inspirational Video

A couple of years ago, I seriously considered moving to Tasmania so this video is a bit special. The wildlife of Tasmania is a wonderful source of inspiration and who better to tell the story than David Attenborough. It is a long video, but it tells an excting story of wallabies, platypuses, minature penguins and much, much more. I hope you enjoy it.

Photo: Tasmanian devil

Books about Nature using pressed flowers

Summer evenings can be magical. Spending time the park or garden listening to the birds and watching the bees drinking nectar from the flowers. But summer evening can also be filled with thunder and lightning, which means that magic that can be found in nature can come by reading. Picture books bring the outdoors in where it can be enjoyed by reading about magical treehouses, shy beetles or ways to care for our earth.

A Year in the Wild by Ruth Symons is an exquisite picture book. Stunning pictures and a text that captures the wonder and magic of each season. But that is not all, the artwork is made by Helen Ahpornsiri from pressed plants. Her intricate artwork transforms leaves, petals, and seeds into hares, swallows, and blossoming trees.

Are you fascinated by the sea? The pressed flower technique has been used to illustrate another book – Beneath the Waves. In this equally exquiste book seaweeds, feathery algae and coastal blooms are transformed into playful penguins, sf silvery sharks and much more.

Breathe in nature, be inspired, solve problems, dream, build!

Biomimicry stimulates the imagination and inspires children to see nature as a place that offers both adventure and play, as well as a chance to discover the secrets of nature. Biomimicry is a way to explore the functions that animals and plants perform both themselves and in their ecosystems. This approach is a creative way to explore underlying patterns and functions. A new way to explore and discover nature’s solutions!

Biomimicry gives children a chance to believe that it can solve great problems and that there are interesting observations to made regardless of whether you are in the school yard, in the garden or in the forest. A great opportunity to observe, listen, smell, use magnifying glasses, binoculars and discover how wonderful nature is. When using biomimicry with children, it is important to give them a chance to develop their thoughts and let their imagination fly.

The term biomimicry consists of two parts, bio which means life and mimicry which means mimic from nature. Biomimicry offers a chance to move learning outside and also to bring the observation home and explore solutions using nature as a starting point.

Biomimicry has a focus on sustainability, eco-efficiency and alternative ways to approach design and problems.

This is the introduction to my book Biomimicry with Theo & Thuva: Nature spotting inspires new ideas. I hope you like it!

Board Games for a Curious Biomimicrist

This post contains ad links.

Summer and Board Games!

Evolution Board Game, Climate Board Game and Evolution: The Beginner Board Game are great games for children who loves nature. The first two games are suitable for a little older children.

The games come from North Star Games and they have quickly become very popular games. The game Evolution has even been used in the evolutionary biology department at the University of Oxford.

In the game 2-6 players adapt species in an changing ecosystem. The environment is filled with hungry predators and the resources are limited. Hard shells and horns can protect your animal from carnivores and a long neck will help you get food from high branches.

This game is stunning and every game takes the players on a different adventure. There are over 12, 000 different species to create.

I love the idea behind the climate game where the task is to adapt your species in an ecosytem where food is scarce, predators lurk, and the climate changes between scorching hot and icy cold.

Happy playing!

Puffilicious Rubbish Picker Litter Stick

The idea appeared yesterday when we were walking our dog. So many interesting ideas appear when you are walking. Walking improves creativty, according to a Stanford study. Stuck at home, staring at the walls, ideas seem hard to hatch. We have been thinking about the puffins but every idea seemed . . . boring . . . until yesterday!

There is so much rubbish where we live, and picking it up always seems like a great thing but such hard work. If you have ever watched the people who would around in the cities with a rubbish picker litter stick you understand the problem.

But if you add some ideas inspired by the puffin beak bards and their glowing beak, wow, this is the litter picker of the future.

Their beaks have a flexible hinge so the puffin can control the degree of the opening of the mouth. There are spines, denticles, inside the upper jaw. The puffin holds the fish against the spines with its tongue so they can continue to hunt for more fish.

Just like the puffin can hold at least 10 fish in its beak, this litter picker can hold at least 10 pieces of rubbish. The rubbish can be of various sizes and most importantly when you relase the rubbish into the bin the rubbish sorts itself. The litter picker flashes in different colours when it is about to relase paper, another glowing colour of plastic . . .

Combining ideas is a useful creativity tool!

Featured photo: Puffin with beak open. Thanks to Jermey Malley-Smith. You can see his stunning photos here. https://jeremymalleysmithphotography.co.uk/

The City of the Birches – Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva

Our book “Biomimicry with Theo & Tuva: Nature spotting inspires wild ideas” is almost ready!

Here is our backcover with a pale yellow-green birch. And beautiful birch heart!

The birch has a little special meaning for all of us because Umeå is the city of the birches. Ann-Margrethe and I studied at university there together and Cecilia studies design there.

Have a great weekend!

Puffin Beaks Glow under UV light! Biomimicry Journal

Have you ever seen a puffin in the wild?

One of the great things about biomimicry is that there is interesting information and great videos on the Internet and in the library. So, if you just like me have never had the pleasure of seeing a puffin in the wild, you can still study this beautiful bird and feel inspired by it. Of course, it would be wonderful to see a breeding colony during spring or summer but. . . well, the great bird can still be studied, loved and used to spark ideas.

When we searched for images of puffins to draw, we stumbled upon a great image of a puffin with a glowing beak!

The beak reflect the blue light and re-emit it as a different color— green, red, or orange. Puffins are biofluorescent animals, which is different from bioluminescence, where the animal either produce the light themselves or host other organisms that shine.

Exactly why a puffin has a beak that glows is a bit of a mystery. But many marine animals such as corals, sea turtles, fish, seahorses and sharks emit a luminous glow under the water. If you shine blue light on them they glow.

We painted a puffin in the Biomimicry Journal with a beak that is almost glowing!

Creating a Biomimicry Journal is a bit different from designing a Nature Journal. Just like when you are making a Nature journal you can make drawings and write about what you see, smell, feel, taste and hear. You can also glue in leaves, flowers and other nature treasures. But you also need to think about ideas and how you can use the observations to “invent ” and design things. And this is the most exciting part!

Imagine a t-shirt that glows in different colours depending on the light. On rainy day it might become brighter to cheer you up, and on sunny day . . . What exciting ideas do you have?

Puffins – Clownlike inspiration

Puffins have been in the news this week. Sadly, climate change might be the reason behind the crested or tufted puffins decline in numbers in the Bering Sea.

Although, I have previously used endangered animals as inspiration for ideas, when I selected puffins a couple of weeks ago for a new booklet that I am working on, it was purely because I have always loved this wonderful bird for their expressive clown-like faces and multicoloured bills. I thought that this bird would capture children’s attention and imagination. Using a biomimicry lens to study nature, its models, systems, and processes is important for several reasons, and highligting the importance of the rich variety of species is one.

Puffins have puffed-up appearance and their chicks are fluffy. Puffins look almost like round balls. They are also called “sea parrots” or “tropical penguins” because of their brightly coloured beaks. In the winter, their beaks and their brigthly coloured feet fade to a greyish colour.

Fabulous Observations to Spark New Ideas!

  • Puffins are great diggers – they use their sharp claws on their webbed feet and sharp beaks to dig.
  • Short wings are perfect when diving for fish.
  • Can stay up to a minute under water searching for fish.
  • They can hold at least ten fish in their beaks.
  • It is more difficult for a puffin to hold a large fish since they leave the fish dangling to one side of the mouth.
  • It is important to save energy. They catch several small fish each time since each trip uses a lot of energy.
  • Their beaks have a flexible hinge so the puffin can control the degree of the opening of the mouth.
  • There are spines, denticles, inside the upper jaw. The puffin holds the fish against the spines with its tongue so they can continue to hunt for more fish.

Why not draw a puffin or a couple of puffins in your biomimicry journal while you ponder over a great ideas using puffins as inspiration?

Everything You Need For A Treehouse


“Treehouses are for wonder. Treehouses are for snacks.
Treehouses are for whispers and snickers and echoes.
Treehouses are for everyone.”

Ever dreamt of having a treehouse? A magical place where you can escape from reality.

Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes is a wonderful celebration of treehouses. Children dream up fantastic treehouses and exciting adventures that accompany them. Spending time in a wild place with your friends is the perfect way to spend a warm day.

Many children do not have a tree house or green space but the final pages show a tiny tree in a pot. Children are dreaming around the little tree in the backyard. So the power of imagination is all you need! Also, trees might actually look best just as they are but that is different story!


Biomimicry Invention Game

This is an idea that I got a long, long time ago. Finally decided to make a start and I make a booklet with an invention board game with a focus on six fantastic and inspiring animals – giraffe, dolphin, zebra, giant panda, meerkat and cheetah.

When using biomimicry with young children, it is often easier to start with an observation of animal or plant and then prompt the child to get an idea rather than starting with a problem and looking for inspiration in the natural world.

The game can be played in several different ways. Children can work in groups and solve the challenges together. They can work in pairs or a child can play the game to challenge him/herself.

This is an unique board game that has a life after it has been played!

Make  an invention Quilt filled with ideas!

Children can make a quilt and work on their ideas. They can give their invention a cool namn, write about who will use the invention, instruction for building, materials . . . A great decoration for the classroom or kitchen!

You find the invention board game here or send me an email (see contact details).

Celebrate Spring – Turn Blue for a Couple of Days

The wonderous world of frogs are a treasure trove of inpiration. There is something utterly magical about the idea to change skin texture or colour. Just look at the Moor Frogs (Rana arvalis) who turn blue Spring. Well, at least the males turn bright blue. They are usually reddish-brown like many other frogs. Blue is a rare colour in nature and these frogs turn into a vibrant blue colour. Stunning!

The blue colouring lasts for a couple of days so you have to be really lucky to witness this spectular event. The video below is from Ljubljansko barje (Ljubljana moor), at the outskirts of Slovenia’s capital. Like so many species of frogs, the Moor Frogs are endangered in Slovenia.

Go here to read more about the making of the video and wildlife in Slovenia.

Photo:
Christian Fischer

Wild Buildings and Bridges

Nature and architecture are perfect partners!

Are you planning a biomimicry challenge? The book Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner is a great introduction to using nature as inspiration to design and architecture. Thought provoking questions and illustrated examples mixed with directions that invite children to build and explore their ideas.

Architects look to nature to help them solve many of their own building problems. The book has more than 30 examples of different ways that nature has influenced architects. In some cases, nature has helped to solve structural problems, for example, using the long roots of grass to create an earthquake-proof bridge. Nature has also provided artistic inspiration and Frank Gehry was inspired by the beauty of moving fish.

The book is a wonderful combination of art and science that has been beautifully illustrated by Carl Wiens.


Observing Nature

“. . . observe simply for the sake of curiosity.”

Inspired by the book iSites: Nature Journaling for Biomimicry by Erin Rovalo, the plan was to spend at least part of the day observing the natural world. Spring is sometimes the best of times to tuning in the senses and just be filled by the natural beauty. After the cold, dull and grey winter it is refreshing for the mind to just sit and watch the world turn a little greener each second. But not today, the rain is at this very moment pouring day and I am warming wrapped up inside the house.

The book is a little gem! It encourages you to take the time to explore nature. The idea is to use nature as the starting point and it suggests that by being curious about nature in a broad sense we may make discoveries that we might not have made if we had been more focused on a specific task.

In a way, this is exactly what Biomimicry for Young Children is all about. Letting curiosity guide the exploration of the animal, plant or fungi. Using the aspect that captured the attention and then search for information. The final stage is to look for possibilities to use the understanding to create something and make a change.

Moles with incredible noses and paws

The star-nosed mole incredible looking nose is not used to smell, instead, the nose is used to feel. Moles spend most of their time underground where it is dark so it is important with a good sense of touch.

This fascinating animal is the only known mammal that can smell under water! Wow!

The mole sends out little bubbles and the bubbles catch odour molecules. The moles’ tunnels often end up in the river so it is important for the mole to be good swimmers.

Moles have front paws that are perfect for digging and this is used as inspiration in the free booklet below to design a digging machine.

But why now combine this with the amazing star-nosed moles, who can smell food under water. Lots of ideas are twirling around in my head! I hope it sparks lots of ideas!

Moles provide opportunities for wonder and possibilities for inventing all sorts of things. The ideas may not work in real life but daydreaming is the first step towards great things but most of all it is fun!

The booklet can be downloaded at TES or TpT. A short introduction to Biomimicry for Young Children. Enjoy!

Ideas and Groundhogs are Everywhere!

The groundhog is an interesting character and a perfect animal to use as an introduction to biomimicry. If the various names this rodent is known under does not spark any ideas its behaviour and fascinating face might. Groundhogs are known as woodchuck groundpig, whistlepig, thickwood badger, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, siffleux. . .

Groundhogs spotting is not easy and they may hide when they see, smell or hear you. Groundhogs can check for danger by sticking out their heads from their burrows. Their sensory organs are near the top of their head.

What exciting ideas do you get when you think of groundhogs and their amazing head?

Photo By Ladycamera – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66321132

Fridays for Future!

1st of February.

When I look out of the window I cannot help to ponder over the extreme weather around the world. Heat waves, bush fires and extreme cold. The climate is changing and in Norden a range of climate strikes are planned.

nordicclimatestrike

The strike is part of the climate activist Greta Thunberg’s work to not only raise awareness but also to encourage and even demand actions against the way we are living. To tacle global warming is something that requires actions but also smart solutions. Biomimicry offers a way to think dive into wild new ways to live. Studying the way animals and plants sees and uses carbon as a building block can lead to the development of sustainable solutions. Carbon emissions, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, are a major contributor to climate changes.

This booklet encourageyoung children to explore climate change in a postive way. Hope mixed with tools and knowledge to change things is a great combination. I might need to add ways to use bimimicry  in this booklet. Work in progress!

original-3055612-1

Be a Curious Climate Change Detective – Explore Cool Questions & Hot Answers

What is Biomimicry?

I often get a blank face when I talk about biomimicry. So what exactly is biomimicry? Well, like most things, the more you know, the more complicated it becomes to explain something.

A quick answer is that the word biomimicry consists of two words:

  • bio which means life
  • mimic which means to imitate.

Bio which means life is part of the word biology (logy which means study of).  Biology is the natural science that study life and living organisms.

Humans have always used nature as inspiration to solve problems, for example, Leonardo da Vinci  made numerous notes and sketches on the flight of birds. Although he never successfully created a flying machine, the Wright brothers who did succeed in creating a flying machine, studied pigeons.

Biomimicry is a way to get children excited about nature and it is a step away from focusing on remembering the names of animals and plant. The approach provides children, even young children, with an opportunity to explore the functions that the animals and plants perform both by themselves and in their ecosystem. This approach is in many ways a complete shift in focus from a learning based upon remembering facts to exploring underlying patterns and functions. A new way to teach children about nature.

There might be a higher cognitive demand put on a child when he or she is asked to explore a function, yet, many children are fascinated by the way a caterpillar moves and it is we, adults, who insist on identifying what type of caterpillar it is. It is we who for some reasons values the knowledge of remember the names rather than exploring the functions.

The founder of the biomimicry movement, Janine Benyus, sees it as an “approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”

Janine stresses that is a search for sustainable solutions but there is no requirement that bio-inspired technology has to be. However, teaching young children to explore sustainable ways of solving problems and designing inventions should, in my opinion, be an underlying idea that is always discussed and explored.

Nature is not always fair and beautiful, yet, when looking for sustainable and ethical solutions it can offer great insights, and the younger a child is when asked to look for sustainable ways of explore a problem the better.

Fungi Friday – Pretty in Blue

Blue is the rarest occuring pigment found in nature, which makes is even more thrilling to spot the blue velvet spread on a gloomy cold winter day.

Terana caerulea is also known as cobalt crust fungus is a real beauty. Wonderful surpises is hidden in nature.  Little gems an be found everywhere if you take the time to look. Biomimicry is a great way to sharpen children’s observation skills.

It is a rather unusual sight but it is so stricking even from a distance so it is hard to miss the blue wonder. You can found it on the undersides of fallen logs and branches.

Pulcherricium_caeruleum,_Cobalt_Crust_fungus.JPG

Photos Martin Bemmann

Roger GriffithOwn work

Biomimicry for Young Children – Book

Happy to present the twins – Tuva and Theo.

Soon you can read about their adventures and be inspired by their ideas.

The working title of the book is Biomimicry for Young Children and the book will be available in an English and Swedish version.

I am responsible for the writing while my dear friend Ann-Margrethe Iseklint is behind the camera. Cecilia Larsson is the brilliant illustrator.

Biomimicry is an exciting way to inspire young children to be creative, curious and to observe the world. Children come to understand how animals and plants can be used as a platform upon which ideas, buildings, and inventions can be developed; with the focus shifting from observing to being inspired to solve problems or to invent things.

This illustrated book tells the story of two children as they observe animals and plants throughout the year. The book uses the characters’ observations as a stepping stone to spark ideas as well as an introduction to the world of inventions and creative thinking.

Nature watching is a fun way to hunt for ideas and solve problems.

 

An Egg is Quiet

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Smashing the walls of a coconut takes some skill!

An Egg Is Quiet (Nature Books) is stunningly beautiful and makes a fascinating introduction to the amazing world of eggs. Poetic text and wonderfully informative, it explores interesting facts about eggs that really sparks the curiosity and imagination.

Written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long it takes the reader on an exciting journey.  From oval ladybird eggs to tubular dogfish eggs, sea turtle eggs to penguin eggs, it captures the mind-blowing variety of eggs. Celebrate the wonder of gooey frog eggs and marvel at fossilized dinosaur eggs. This books inspires children to question and ponder. Eggs come in lots of colors, shapes, and sizes.

 

 

An egg may look like simply structure, but it is a refined work of architecture. The wall of an egg is made of calcium carbonate, which is found in concrete, and its arc shape is the secret behind its strength. An egg is designed to care and protect life.

Our skulls are nearly spherical domes and similarly a turtle’s shell is a light, strong dome.  And the wall of a coconut, which is domed-shaped, takes effort and skill to smash. Today, increasingly we are building eggs in which to live. And they can even save us from hurricanes!

You may also like the review of A Beetle is Shy  written by the same author.

Dusky Lady Beetle Larva – Inspirational Video

Who can resist this spiky looking  little creature from the rainforest of Ecuador?

Yet, looks can be deceptive, and the striking white tufts are waxy secretions that may protect the larva from predators. The larva may simple be very tricky to catch and may not taste very nice.

The dusky ladybeetle belongs to the Coccinellidae, a family that is widely known under the name ladybird, or ladybug (see previous blogpost Daydreaming about Ladybirds). Perhaps this larva will spark some new ideas for a helmet.

800px-Stethorus_punctillum

Photo By Gilles San Martin – originally posted to Flickr as Stethorus punctillum, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9579775

Daydreaming about Ladybirds

November and not a ladybird in sight. The cold November weather has arrived and the pretty ladybird is hibernating. And somehow, the things you cannot see quickly becomes more interesting!

The slow motion video below of a ladybird taking off provides you with an opportunity to slow down. Being mindful is to slow down and observe rather than being on autopilot.

See how the ladybird fold out and back its wings. The wings are hidden under their elytra, which are hard and shell-like. There are many different types of ladybirds, but the most famous has a red elytra with back spots.

The blog post Design a Helmet inspired by Ladybirds provides you with an idea to use your understanding of the ladybird to invent something interesting.

Slow down, observe and enjoy!

 

 

Cool and Warm Ptarmigan Sneaker Kit – Biomimicry for Young Children

What if, we could design a greener and cheaper shoe where you replace part of the shoe when the weather changes or when one part of the shoe is worn out?

My strongest memory of seeing ptarmigan comes from a skiing holiday in the Swedish mountains. I never really liked cross-country skiing and on a windy cold day, there was actually nothing that I disliked more.

And there the bitterly cold weather I spotted a ptarmigan. Even today, I can remember my surprise that the little white bird could survive in this cold climate while all I was thinking about was a hot cup of chocolate and a warm house.

Ptarmigans’ legs and feet are covered in feathers to keep them warm.  But the feathered feet may act like snowshoes so that ptarmigan can walk atop on soft snow.

Segmentation is a creative thinking  technique where you can divide an object into independent parts. Like dividing a shoe into different parts.

Sneakers are a billion pound business. Yet, all sneakers are built in the same way. They consist of a combination of soles and uppers.

Can you design a  shoe kit inspired by the ptarmigan’ feathered feet?

Be inspired by this picture but have some fun and make it a into a cool kit. You are not selling shoes but kits where different parts can be put together A cool sneaker or converse kit.

shooze

Photo: By Ómar Runólfsson – Rock Ptarmigan – Lagopus muta – RjúpaUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14846084

 

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Creepy Smelly Burglar Alarm

 Can you rethink the way burglar alarms is working?

The creepy looking devil’s fingers sparked the idea. Looks are important but for this nature inspired idea the smells that the fungi release is more crucial for the alarm to work.

A burglar alarm usually works by making a loud noise. The focus is on sending a message to the world that someone is committing a crime.

But what is you could design an alarm that scares the burglar away? This idea popped up as we were making sketches of the fascinating fungi in our Biomimicry Journal.

What if something smelly and creepy could pop up in front of a potential buglar? Preventing crimes is so much better!

Our idea is that little balls are placed around the house and if you are not at home, the person has x minutes to leave the house before the creepy fingers crawl up releasing disgusting smells. And there is no point in wearing a mask because this device is too smart and will simply reach the potential burglar’s nose anyway.

Always explore the risks with your ideas. Here is the risk that the balls are released by mistake so that when you enter your home you are greeted by a horrible smell and creepy fingers. But we could overcome this problem by designing an app. So the little clever balls can learn to recognise you and your friends.

If you are aspiring to become a great inventor, you will also see the potential of making a mask that prevents the smells for entering the nose. But whoever buys this device could be tracked or identified before they have a chance to commit a crime. What would this device look like?

What ideas do you get when you look a devil’s fingers?

Moth – An Evolution Story

The colour of an animal can decide whether it lives or dies.

Moth is a story of the peppered moth written by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. An awe-inspiring story about a speckled and freckled master of disguise. A fight for survival in a world that is changed by humans. Important and a bit sad questions are posed in this book.

Who will survive?

Who will change and evolve?

Who will die out?

A story of survival and hope that tickles the creative juices. Perfect as introduction for  bioinspired ideas and for discussions about what happens to animals that cannot adapt to changes.

“People built factories and burned coal to power magnificent machines. They made steam trains to take things here there and everywhere. Chimneys filled the air with smoke and soot…”

The illustrations create a vibrant and dramatic atmosphere.  A play of light on dark filled with fascinating patterns and perspectives. From beautiful white birch trunks to smoke-clad machines. Love the way the peppered moth either stands out or blends in.

The story is filled with drama and emotions, yet, the language is  simple so young readers can follow the story of changes that the moth has to make and also the changes that has taken place in the human environment.  Evolution is explored in language that is both scientic and poetic.

Warmly recommended.

Devil’s Fingers – Spooky Video Inspiration –

Looking for non-plastic inspiration to celebrate Hallooween? Nature is not always pretty and beautiful. It can be ghoulish and horrific!

Imagine that you are out walking on a sunny autumn afternoon when you stumble across a fungus emerging from what looks like strange looking eggs. Slender pinkish-red arms emerging from the top which creepily can more freely. The reddish skin is dotted with black spores and the smell. . . A horrid smell that instanlty transfer to you to a horror movie.

Clathrus archeri commonly known as octopus stinkhorn, or devil’s fingers is a fungi with fingers that seems to be looking for you. In the time-lapse video the horror is quick.  The life cycle of the devil’s fingers takes place over several hours.

Pause the video and make some sketches of this spookilicious fungi!

And here is more spooky inspiration straight from nature!

Wishing all my readers and followers on Facebook a Halloween filled with ghoulish food and crazy ideas!

Photo By de:Benutzer:Oilys – Originally from de.wikipedia (de:Image:Tintenfischpilz2.JPG; by de:Benutzer:Oilys at 00:30, 26. Okt 2004, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=406108

 

Sea Slug Borrowers – Inspirational video

Spots, stripes, bold vibrant colours or soft milky pastels. Nudibranchs do everything to capture your attention. These soft-bodied creatures warn predators with their high contrast markings and colours. But some sea slugs are a bit more cunning, and they steal stinging cells that they collect from hydroid prey.

The nudibranch’s gut is impressive, with fingerlike branches that extend into long spines, cerata, on its back. At the tips of the cerata are cnidosacs. The word ceras comes from the Greek word “κέρας”, meaning “horn”.

The sea slug borrowers have horns filled with poison and the squeeze and shoots out the stingers when a fish or crab tries to bite it.

Cnidosacs(1)

To further kick start your thinking, watch the adorable sea bunnies in the videos below. What can you invent when you ponder over the slug’s ears. They are rhinophores ; rhino= nose and phore= to hear orcarrry the sea bunnies ears are scent or taste receptors.

Or read this blog post  Eternal Magic Leaf Sheep Snack Bar and Photosynthesis – Biomimicry

Photos: By Brocken Inaglory – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2202919

By Bernard Picton – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36504099

 

Inspired by Wonderland: A Year of Britain’s Wildlife, Day by Day

 Red deer, squirrel, dormice, and harlequin ladybird for Halloween!

October month is filled with fascinating animals and plants. There is plenty to see and sometimes wildlife is right on our doorstep if we know what to look for and how to look.

The book Wonderland: A Year of Britain’s Wildlife, Day by Day by Brett Westwood and Stephan Moss opens up your eyes to the best of British wildlife.

“All we need to do is step outside – or, sometimes, stay indoors – and simply look and listen in a different way.”

The book has an entry for every day of the year.  Since we bought the book, we have read an entry every evening.  Heads filled with wonder, because this book is more about wonder that a field guide, we have imagined and dreamt about all sorts of  adventures waiting for us on our doorstep.

The book lacks pictures which is sad but it may be a good things since it inspires you to find out more about what the animal or plant looks like before you start searching your garden, local park. . . And you can fill your biomimicry journal with drawings and information about your observations. Perfect inspiration for new wild and important ideas!

The entry for the 7th of October is about the Grey Phalarope ” a tiny, pearl-grey bird bobbing on the surface of the water.” And tomorrow it is the red deer.

Photo By Charles J Sharp – Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50434159

Reindeer Challenge – Zero Waste Ideas for a Reindeer Party

Plastic is everywhere!

Can you help design packing material’s for a Reindeer Party to celebrate that all the Xmas gifts have been delivered around the world.

Reindeer are vegetarians, so they eat only plants, During the summer months they eat grass and shrubs. Once the snow covers the tundra, they start looking for lichen.

Why not use lichen as inspiration for a non-plastic food wrapping? 

Go here to read a blog post about Festive Biomimicry Reindeer

 

Dot-ish Positive Nature Words

Wild things

Mud Faces

Talking trees

Adventure

Peace

Magical

Fill a page in your Biomimicry Journal with positive nature words. Creative and inspirational energy is important when you think dive into nature. For young biomimicrists it is vital to look at animals and plants with a positive and curious mindset. We are after all hunting for possibilites! Possible ways to solve problems inspired by nature.

Inspired by the book Start with a Dot (Guided Journal): A Journal for Making Your Mark by Peter H. Reynolds, we made a page filled with dots and positive nature words. A great way to add art to the biomimicry journal. Love the way the guided journal starts the creative journey by giving you permission to draw just one dot and sign your name in a gold frame!  Big dots, little dots, scattered dots, well, all sorts of dots. And of course, the dots are only the beginning. Towards the end  of the journal dots and lines are combined.

News about nature can often be of a negative character. It is important to look at nature with realistic eyes, nevertheless, it is crucial to encourage children to enjoy nature. A necessary ingredient when you start  a biomimciry project is a positive mindset.

It is a common misconception that wildlife is somewhere special. But wildlife is everywhere, not just in the woods or nature reserve. Wonder at the geometry of a spider’s web on the grass. Follow the snail’s path along the ground. Or watch where the squirrel hides the nuts.

Why not make your onw dots and fill them with wonderful and inspiring nature words?

20180930_154908

Supertiny Bats with Superpowers

Unstoppable hunters of the nights!

A couple of weeks ago, we went for a bat walk in Sutton Park. Equipped with warm clothes and torches we searched for bats in the dark autumn evening using bat detectors. The rain was drizzling but luckily the bats still came out to feed.

Bats are mammals and they are the only mammal who is capable of natural flight. Bats find their food and water by using echolocation. As a bat flies, it makes loud shouting sounds, which are too high for most humans to hear. The echoes they get back from their shouts give them information about anything that is ahead – echolocation.

Just after sunset, bats come out from their roosts and make test fights where they send out special signals. A bit later, you can hear their feeding buzz when they catch something. A bat eats a lot of insects – it is estimated that a pipistrelle bat can eat around 3 000 insects in a single night.

Different bat species use different frequencies and by using a bat detector you an not only hear the high sounds but it also helps with the identification. We heard pipistrelle bats, which are the most common bats in the UK. We also heard soprano pipistrelle bats who look similar to the pipistrelle but has a higher frequency echolocation call.

Bats can by using their echolocation tell how far away something is by how long it takes for the sound they send out to return to them. Even though it is great to use a bat detector it is even better to use a special app to help with the identification. Our detectors picked up brown long-eared bats and Daubenton’s Bats. The brown long-eared bats have huge ears that provide them with exceptional hearing – they can even hear a ladybird walking on a leaf below them when they are flying around. Bats can also detect insects and frogs that are hiding motionless on a leaf.

Over a little lake, we saw some Daubenton’s bats searching for insects. They were flying close to the surface of the water looking for insects. In the dark evening, their whitish belly helped with the identification.

Of course, going on a bat walk is a great way to spark ideas. Bats have provided inspiration for and flying robots and a vibrating ultrasonic cane to help blind people detect obstacles. Their skin has attracted attention since they have a network of hair-thin muscles in their wing skin to control the stiffness and shape of their wings. This could help engineers to design aeroplanes or even a cleaning mop!

What ideas do you get when you think of these magnificent flying creatures?

 

Photos:

Newborn Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus, a foundling) sitting on the back of a hand. Size: about 3 cm.

Pipstrelle flight By Barracuda1983 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2077104

Inspired by Fungi

Fly agaric, jelly ear, shaggy inkcap and sickener.

How many fungi can you identify?

And have you ever seen  ghost fungus?

Fungi grow in a range of different environments. They live in the soil, on plants and animals, in fresh water and seawater. They even grow on your body!

Many fungi are colourful and some even light up in the middle of the night.

Fungi are pretty amazing and they are providing inventors with great ideas.

What if we could grow materials for packaging?

What if mushrooms was used instead of plastic for packaging?

We can find single-use plastics everywhere on our planet – in the forest, on the beach and in the sea. We need materials for packaging that are strong, water-repellent and biodegrade. Fungi are amazing and great inspriation. We can use the power of nature to grow things.

Fungi can provide us inspiration for building cities and curing us from diseases.

Can you imagine a city built like a fairy ring?

Does it feel like jumping into another world when you imagine using fairy rings as inspiration? Surely there must be better approaches. . .

Modified image, watermark removed: '07/01/2008'Photo: Fairy Rings

Fairy rings are naturally occurring rings of mushrooms and the rings become more and more stable as the fungus grows and looks for food underground. This is a way for nature to make connections, something that is important when you try to build larger communities.

In a fairy ring, there is a complex flow of energy, nutrients, materials and information while in a city there is an infrastructure in a city with interconnected water, energy and food.

Usually, a town square of the main street is regarded as the most central part of a neighbourhood, however, this idea was not found in nature where the edges are regarded as more vital. Nature often have colourful and attractive edges, for example, trees at the edge of a forest or plants. Thus, nature focus the energy and attention on the edges.

What ideas do you get when you look at mushrooms?

Happy thinking diving into fairy rings, green glowing fungi and. . .

 

Step out of the classroom and into nature

Looking for an hands-on lessons and activities that engage children in environmental literacy?

Biomimicry offers project-based instructions that may inspire future generations to care for nature and to see nature as a spot that offer not only calmness and spectacular experiences of beauty and drama but also can make your head twirl around with possibilities. Possible ways to solve problems. Hope for solving some of the most difficult challenges that we are facing.

Looking at nature and learning from the way nature is designing solutions for social problems to ways to quickly move around in the dark can help children to find solutions to help create better justice to issues like climate change.

Watching the way fungus grow in the forest can provide inspiration for how to select a class representative to  a prime minister or president. Beneath the soil lies dense webs of networks of fungus. Fungi spends most of the year out of out sight, but during particularly the autumn months they pop up from the underground when the raindrops are falling. A perfect starting point for all sorts of marvelous ideas.

Trees use fungi to communicate. There is the Wood Wide Web underneath our feet.

Fungus bring water and minerals to a plants and they are trading them for sugar fuel.

The structure is flat, not hierarchical structure like most work places in society. Together they work and respond to any changes. The fungi respond to any conditions and they do not ignore some signals. Every signal is important and the network seeks out signals rather than try to block them out.

A flexible and intelligent network.

A strong and beautiful leaderships style that is build upon listening and respond to every little signal because together they are stronger.

In this case, nature that not elect a  prime minister. Instead all the decisions pops up from underground from all the fungi in the underground web. The leadership in nature is sometimes (not alway) distributed  and relies on collective intelligence. A great starting point for discussion and new ideas.

Exploring patterns in nature ad looking for strategies and using them as inspiration when designing solutions to problems is an exciting way to bring the lesson out into nature.  The lesson can continue into the classroom and maybe you need to get out of the classroom and continue to explore nature. A constant interaction between nature and the work that takes place in the classroom.

Biomimicry is a great way to explore whole systems by observing, exploring and sketching how living systems work together and interconnect.

A great idea for the classroom is to have a weekly or monthly local hero. Encourage the children to look for a special animal, plant or fungi that captures their attention and curiosity. How does the animal keep warm or cool? How does the plant conserve water or distribute nutrients and help sick neighbours? Record the observation, add photos and make sketches in your biomimicry journal.

Have fun!

Super Siri Spider Sieve

What lives in the ocean?

Fish, dolphins, sea otters, whales, octopuses, plants, corals sea turtles and sea spiders. And plastic!

Marine creatures are vulnerable to fragments of plastic littering the world’s oceans. Big animals such as whales are ingesting microplastics. Microplastics are small fragments of plastic, less than 5 mm.  There are different types of microplastics that can be found in the sea. Some are manufactured, like microbeads that can be added to beauty products, while are the result of larger plastics that are breaking down.

Biomimicry means to be inspired by nature. Combining ideas from different sources is one way to solve problems. We combined sea spiders with flying spiders to develop our idea for Super Siri Spider Sieve. This sieve can search for microplastic in the sea but it can also float in the air and collect tiny plastic fragments. It is powered by tiny solar cells.


A sea spider sitting on a gorgonian sea fan. Photo by Derek Keats via Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Combining ideas from sea spiders and ballooning

The inspiration for the Super Sally Sea Sieve came from sea spiders and the phenomenon ballooning that are used by spiders to fly long distances.

What is a sea spider?

A sea spider, just like many other spiders, usually have eight legs. The legs are long and attached to a small body. Sea spiders may look like the spiders that live on land (arachnids). But they are Pycnogonida, a special group of marine spiders that crawl along the ocean floor.

There are about 1 000 sea spider species, most sea spiders are small, 1 to 10 mm. But there are sea spiders that are as big as a dinner plate. Sea spiders have long legs and there