2021-2022 Legacy Curriculum

Welcome Educators!

Below you will find everything you need to run a successful design challenge from contest details to NGSS-aligned curriculum.  
Watch the intro video here.

We recommend starting with the Programming Handbook
Please also make sure to read Official Rules if you plan to submit student work for awards consideration.

2021-2022 YDC Curriculum

If you’re new to us, the Youth Design Challenge serves as a bridge from core concepts to advanced project-focused learning for students. We equip learners with the tools they need to solve the world’s pressing problems using the teachings of nature.

Our challenge provides a framework for educators of all types to introduce biomimicry as a lens for exploration and problem solving—within and beyond the classroom. It sparks curiosity and ingenuity in middle and high school students, turning learners into makers.

Changes to this year’s program cycle include updates to how the Instructional Storyline, MIMIC, is introduced based on educator feedback from last year’s Challenge, as well as how it is aligned with the 5E Instructional Model. We feel the updated lessons have a smoother transition, and there are clearer activities to support you in introducing these concepts to students. The 2021-2022 Challenge lets students choose which of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they would like to pursue based on their interest. We wanted to give choices on whether climate change was the most pressing issue in students’ immediate communities or if there were other problems for which they would be more inspired to create solutions.

For more information on how the YDC aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the SDGs, visit this resource.

Storyline NGSS Alignments: High School | Middle School

Possible Additional Alignments: NGSS Alignments for UN Sustainable Development Goals

Download curriculum guide

Each MIMIC section can be previewed and downloaded below without needing to register if you prefer. You can also access the list of accompanying resources and activities within each MIMIC section below.

Storyline Lesson Content:

Get oriented with the YDC Storyline, the MIMIC framework on which it is built, how it aligns with NGSS, and explore an introduction to biomimicry basics before diving in the core curriculum with your students. 

Download the WELCOME document.

Get inspired! Motivate your team by exploring a local or global problem and introducing the concept of biomimicry. Learn how the unique abilities of organisms help them to survive and thrive and how people have been inspired by them to design solutions to challenging problems. 

Download the MOTIVATE section.

Investigate the causes and effects of a problem learner are passionate about. Identify aspirational goals, constraints for the design, and the sustainable impact your solution will need to have to address the problem effectively.

Download the INVESTIGATE section.  
Step 3: MATCH 
Explore how nature has solved problems similar to yours by matching what you need your design to do with organisms that have similar abilities. Examine why those organisms have those abilities, how those adapted strategies function, and whether they could inspire your solution. 

Download the MATCH section.
Create a biomimicry innovation that would help solve your selected problem. Refine your innovation after evaluating its strengths and weaknesses both in performance and how well it creates conditions conducive to life. 

Download the Innovate section.
Use the power of inspiration, storytelling, and scientific evidence to explain how your biomimicry design solves the selected problem and how nature has inspired it. Offer gratitude for the natural world for sharing wise strategies to better inform design. 

Download the COMMUNICATE section.