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Innovation Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry 101

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 23, 2018 - July 27, 20181M-F 8:30A-11:20A and 12:15-3:05POpenAndrea Stein

Course Description

Velcro, wind turbine blades, high speed trains and Olympic wetsuits. What do these all have in common? These and many other designs were inspired by the science of Biomimicry - using patterns in nature to influence design for human benefit. There is no better design partner than nature. What surrounds us is the secret to survival. Michael Pawlyn, a noted architect in biomimetic design, stated, "You can look at nature as being like a catalog of products, and all of those have benefited from a 3.8 billion year research and development period. And given that level of investment, it makes sense to use it."

Plants and animals are talented and accomplished engineers that we can learn from. Students will spend a week at Roger Williams Park Zoo learning directly from these living things. Students will fine tune their biomimicry skills by explore the role of plants and animals in nature, nature as an engineer, adaptation as a design process and bio-inspired design. Throughout the week, students will gain a new way of viewing and valuing the natural world by learning how we can develop innovative solutions to problems using nature.

This course will encourage innovative thinking and problem solving which are key 21st Century skills. It will teach students skills in observation, research and critical thinking inspiring interest in science and the natural world. At the end of this course students will be able to: 1. Identify examples of bio-inspired design, 2. Utilize adaptation as a design process, 3. Use nature to design a solution to a problem.

Students should have a good understanding of how an ecosystem works and some general animal biology knowledge. Mostly, they just need to come with a deep appreciation for the natural world.