Instructional Storyline

Creating Local Biomimicry Solutions to Global Problems

"How can learning from nature help us solve a local sustainability problem that is connected to global climate change?"

Watch to learn more about the
 Instructional Storyline.

This project storyline is a suggested sequence of twenty-two connected lessons that will prepare students to complete a biomimicry design project that could be entered into the Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge.The storyline is built on the MIMIC Instructional Approach, a framework for creating a biomimicry-specific STEM learning experience.

In this storyline the YDC theme, global climate change, is framed locally to make this complex issue relevant and personally purposeful. Connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals are also included as an opportunity to narrow the complex topic of climate to a more specific opportunity for a design project, and to connect student projects to physical, earth, and life science standards.

The storyline can be followed in its entirety, used partially to support one or more areas of the Challenge, used as a template to create your own storyline, or used to identify the lesson resources that fit into your own instructional plan. For more about storylines, visit Next Generation Storylines:

Storyline NGSS Alignments:  High School (PDF) | Middle School (PDF)

Possible Additional Alignments: NGSS Alignments for UN Sustainable Development Goals (PDF)

Download the Full Storyline (PDF)

Storyline Lesson Content:

The Storyline consists of five lesson sequences, or sections, one for each letter in MIMIC. 

MOTIVATE (Lessons 1-7): The storyline begins by introducing learners to the Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge (YDC) and laying out a series of lessons to set a strong foundational understanding of biomimicry concepts and application.
INVESTIGATE (Lessons 8-12): In this sequence of lessons learners define a problem to solve and establish the criteria and constraints for a solution. The broad issue of global climate change is viewed through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and problems in students' local area.
MATCH (Lessons 13-14): The process of creating a biomimicry design begins with this unique set of lessons. Learners first identify the fundamental functions that their design needs to do. Then they ask, “How does nature [do that function]?” and identify one or more biological models to inform their design.
INNOVATE (Lessons 15-19): This sequence of lessons composes the heart of the design process. Learners begin by analyzing their biological models to identify strategies that can be applied in a human-made design. Then they plan, create, test, and refine a biomimicry design.
COMMUNICATE (Lessons 20-22): This sequence of lessons offers a framework for learners to share their biomimicry designs with others in their community and prepare an entry to the YDC.

Each lesson in the Storyline includes the following elements:

  • A driving question that provides the foundation for each lesson and requires investigation or problem-solving to answer. As each driving question is answered and understood, it naturally leads to the next driving question, and so on until students have answered the anchor question and completed the Challenge.

  • A learning goal that states the reason for the lesson by explaining what the learners will be able to do after completing the lesson.

  • A description of “what learners do,” which outlines a sequence of class activities for students to investigate and use to answer the driving question.

  • A description of “what learners figure out,” which describes the concepts or processes learned from the activities.

  • A collection of lesson resources, including suggested videos, interactive websites, lesson plans, background information, articles, and other supportive resources for the activities described in “what learners do.”

Individual resources associated with each lesson can be accessed from the Storyline Resource Index below.

Storyline Resource Index

Instructional materials and other resources linked within the Storyline are provided below by the lesson in which they appear.


Lesson 1:  How are students like us designing biomimicry solutions to sustainability problems?  

Lesson 2: What is biomimicry and how can living things give us ideas to solve problems?

Lesson 3: Who are nature’s design champions outside our door? 

Lesson 4: What is the value of nature and any individual organism?

Lesson 5: How would a biomimicry designer view and describe nature outside our door? 

Lesson 6: How do biomimicry designers talk about biomimicry and biological models? 

Lesson 7: What can we learn about biomimicry from the nature-inspired designs and practices of Indigenous Peoples both past and present? 


Watch for Teacher Prep suggestions.

Teacher Prep

Support for planning your lessons in the INVESTIGATE series.

Lesson 8: How could our biomimicry design help solve a problem related to climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals? 

Lesson 9:  What is climate change and how is it affecting our Earth, environment, and people? 

Lesson 10: What problems in our local area are related to our selected Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)?

Lesson 11: How will we decide which specific problem will be the focus of our design challenge?

Lesson 12: What does our design need to be able to do to solve the specific problem, and what are the limitations to our design? 


Lesson 13: Which organisms have strategies for solving problems that are similar to the problem we want to solve?

Lesson 14: How will we select the biological strategies that will become our models for a biomimicry solution?


Lesson 15: How can we apply what we know about our biological model to create our biomimicry design?

Lesson 16: How will we ensure our biomimicry design functions effectively to solve the problem we identified? 

Lesson 17: How will we test and refine our biomimicry design to improve its chances of success in solving the identified problem? 

Lesson 18: How could our biomimicry design contribute to the many projects across the world working to reach the global SDG? 

  • Refer to SDG resources from INVESTIGATE

Lesson 19: How does our biomimicry design contribute to global efforts to slow or adapt to climate change?


Lesson 20: How has practicing biomimicry shaped how we think about nature, problem solving, engineering, and technology?

Lesson 21: How can we share what we have learned and experienced so others recognize biomimicry as an innovative design process for creating solutions to sustainability problems?

Lesson 22: How do we submit our design project to the Biomimicry Institute’s Youth Design Challenge?