Tes author Asa Jomard shows how biomimicry can boost students’ observation skills, creativity and critical thinking.
What is Biomimicry?
Bio means life, and mimicry means to mimic life and nature. Biomimicry offers an opportunity to bring learning outdoors – nature-watching is a fun way to hunt for ideas and solve problems. Biomimicry is an exciting way to inspire young students to be creative, curious and to observe the world. Students come to understand how animals and plants can be used as a platform upon which ideas, buildings and inventions can be developed; with the focus shifting from observing to being inspired to solve problems or to invent things.
What is at the heart of this approach to learning?
Biomimicry is not aimed at learning names of animals or plants. It’s about observing behaviours and functions and using these as a stepping stone for ideas. Students can investigate owls to form their own ideas for innovation and design. There are no right or wrong answers or solutions, and the projects are intended to inspire a playful and creative approach towards problem solving.
How can teachers use biomimicry in the classroom?
Lessons about biomimicry require a brave approach to teaching as they mean a move away from teachers asking questions and looking for answers. Instead young learners are given an opportunity to shape and explore their own ideas. Biomimicry and bioinspiration are constantly evolving and new ideas are explored to solve problems and design sustainable solutions, like architecture based on animals and their habitats.
What impact should teachers and students see?
Biomimicry creates a positive learning atmosphere, builds confidence and gives 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 be Ladybird detectives (for example) and use creative techniques to solve everyday problems, designing things and make innovations by studying nature, is just a different way to use imagination. Biomimicry is a great brain workout and gives students the tools they will need to solve problems in the future.