Instructional StorylineCreating 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?"
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: www.nextgenstorylines.org.
Possible Additional Alignments: NGSS Alignments for UN Sustainable Development Goals (PDF)
Storyline Lesson Content:
The Storyline consists of five lesson sequences, or sections, one for each letter in MIMIC.
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?
- Inquiry Images: Biomimicry Examples
- Biomimicry: Description and Key Terms
- Video: What is Biomimicry?, from Fast Company & Earth Sky
- Video: Biomimicry: Turning to nature for technological solutions, video from CBS Sunday Morning
- Sharing Biomimicry with Young People, from the Biomimicry Institute
Lesson 3: Who are nature’s design champions outside our door?
- Outdoor Nature Solo (lesson plan) | Student instructions handout
- Two Viewpoints of a Tree (inquiry mage)
Lesson 4: What is the value of nature and any individual organism?
- Media: 30 Animals that Made Us Smarter, from BBC Video clips | Podcasts
- Video: AskNature Nugget: "How do star-nosed moles sense?" from Biomimicry Institute
Lesson 5: How would a biomimicry designer view and describe nature outside our door?
- Exploring Function in Nature (lesson plan)
- Function Junction Cards
- "Seeing" Function observations worksheet
Lesson 6: How do biomimicry designers talk about biomimicry and biological models?
- Bio-What? The Language of Biomimicry (lesson plan) | Images
- Biomimicry: Definition and Key Terms (reference)
- Videos: AskNature Nuggets, from Biomimicry Institute.
- Media: 30 Animals that Made Us Smarter, from BBC Video clips | Podcasts
- AskNature Collection: "30 Animals that Made Us Smarter," from Biomimicry Institute
- Using AskNature: Guide for YDC Coaches
Lesson 7: What can we learn about biomimicry from the nature-inspired designs and practices of Indigenous Peoples both past and present?
- Native knowledge: What ecologists are learning from Indigenous people, from Yale Environment 360.
- Rediscovering the ancient practice of biomimicry, from The Modern Ape. The site this article appeared on is no longer available, however the text is still accessible via this link on the Internet Archive.
- List of articles on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science from the National Park Service.
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?
- Design Brief Handout, YDC
- Video: UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for global action on climate change, United Nations
- Background on the goals, United Nations Development Programme
- Video: SDG Summit 2019, United Nations Development Programme
- Video: 'We The People' for The Global Goals
- Fact Sheet on the Goals, United Nations Development Programme
- Connecting the UN Sustainable Development Goals to Climate Change, YDC
Lesson 9: What is climate change and how is it affecting our Earth, environment, and people?
- Our Climate Our Future, from Alliance for Climate Education.
- Video: The Emergent Pattern of Climate Change, Gavin Schmidt, from TedTalks.
- Film: Before the Flood, from National Geographic.
- A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change, from EPA.
- Global Climate Change: Vital signs of a planet, from NASA.
- Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (100s of vetted educator resources)
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?
- Five Whys to the Root Cause (activity)
- Problem Analysis (master copy) | Sample answers
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?
- Mapping Criteria and Constraints (activity)
- Is Our Solution SMARTER? (activity)
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?
- "How Does Nature…?" Game (activity guide) | Game cards
- "Biologize" the Design Question (master copy) | Sample answers
- Biomimicry Taxonomy Explained (reference and chart)
- Inspiring Strategies (student research worksheet)
- Using AskNature: Guide for YDC Coaches (reference)
- AskNature Biological Strategies, Biomimicry Institute.
- AskNature Collections, Biomimicry Institute.
- References for Biology Research (via Biomimicry Toolbox), Biomimicry Institute.
- Ask a Biologist, Arizona State University.
- Nepris platform for connecting industry experts to classrooms
Lesson 15: How can we apply what we know about our biological model to create our biomimicry design?
- "Design-ifying" Biological Strategies (activity) | Sample answers
- Biomimicry Brainstorm (activity)
Lesson 16: How will we ensure our biomimicry design functions effectively to solve the problem we identified?
- Design Challenge Map (activity)
- Action Plan (activity)
- YDC Team Self-Assessment
- YDC Challenge Rubric
- Design Kit, “Rapid Prototyping”, from IDEO.org
Lesson 17: How will we test and refine our biomimicry design to improve its chances of success in solving the identified problem?
- Team Feedback Loop (activity)
- Peer Feedback Loop (activity)
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?