Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Training for Educators
25 August – 31 August 2012
With Megan Schuknecht and Sam Stier
of The Biomimicry Insitute
Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a fast-emerging cross-disciplinary science and engineering practice that studies and emulates design lessons from the natural world to create more sustainable technologies. Researching the micro-structure of gecko feet for innovative ways to create non-toxic adhesives, shark skin for structure-based antibiotics that do not breed resistance in bacteria, leaves for creating self-cleaning fabrics and better solar panels, and the design of termite mounds for energy-free building ventilation systems, are just a few of hundreds of examples of biomimicry now dramatically changing technological possibilities.
Recognizing the importance and compelling nature of this subject, hundreds of educational institutions now incorporate the subject of biomimicry into their curricula, including public and private K-12 schools, informal educational institutions (e.g., the San Diego Zoo, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Montreal Biosphere, COSI Columbus, etc.), and universities (e.g., Arizona State University, the Ontario College of Art and Design University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and others).
Meanwhile, students want to play a role in creating sustainable, innovative solutions to humanity's most pressing challenges. They want to contribute to radical, paradigm-changing innovation, and protect our planet while doing so. They are seeking interdisciplinary opportunities that will provide them with skills and tools to help solve complex problems in a sustainable way, as well as opportunities to (re)connect with nature. Biomimicry education meets this need, and students are demanding that biomimicry be brought into their coursework and onto their campuses. In order to meet that demand, more educators must be trained in the fundamentals of biomimicry education.
Who is this course for?
This course is designed for high school, college or university, and informal science teachers or lecturers who are interested in learning the fundamentals of biomimicry and integrating biomimicry teaching into new or existing courses, programs, displays, or exhibits.
What will participants learn?
- A solid understanding of what biomimicry is and how it differs from other bio-inspired approaches
- The practical application of biomimicry, including Life's Principles, as a design and sustainability tool
- Communication strategies and interpretive approaches for disseminating biomimicry knowledge, including to formal students and the general public
- Core skills for fostering collaborative design work
- Biological and ecological principles relevant to design
- Detailed examples of the latest biomimetic case studies
- How to leverage existing resources in their given institutions
- Curricula, communication strategies, funding opportunities, and collaboration strategies for bringing biomimicry into the classroom
- Design teaching tips from their peers
What will participants do?
- Learn from local plants, animals, and ecosystems – and how best to make use of their local environment for educational purposes
- Apply the biomimicry methodology to a mini-design challenge
- Practice using life's sustainable design principles as an assessment tool
- Share curricula and contribute to the idea pool for enhancing biomimicry education
- Co-develop biomimicry course and/or interpretive materials
- Assess opportunities and challenges within their own institutions or classrooms
What will participants take home?
- New inspiration for bringing nature's ideas to the classroom or exhibit space, along with a toolkit of methods, best practices, and activities
- One or two in-depth case studies to use as teaching tools
- One or two introductory biomimicry presentations, developed by the group
- Access to teaching and/or curricula modules developed by TBI
- A new network of enthusiastic biomimicry educators to call on for advice, and access to our supportive Biomimicry Educators' Network
- Resources and contacts for further exploration
University professors, administrators, or PhD candidates who complete this training will also be eligible to become Biomimicry Fellows.
£950 low income
£1200 medium income
Prices include accommodation (Friday after the course included), full board and course materials.
Apply online here
Megan Schuknecht - Director of University Education Megan works with faculty and administrators to incorporate biomimicry tools and concepts into university and college classrooms, curricula, and degree programs. She promotes and fosters formal relationships between The Biomimicry Institute and universities to establish biomimicry degree programs through the Institute's Biomimicry Affiliate Program. Megan also develops and evaluates biomimicry teaching and learning materials, and shares those materials with educators and students through workshops, in-person and online courses, and curricula development. Megan orchestrates both the Institute's annual student design challenge and its annual Biomimicry Education Summit. Megan also consults with corporate clients doing research and training on biomimicry for corporate R&D staff.
||Sam Stier - Director of Public Education and Conservation
Sam has thirteen years of experience working in education, science, conservation, and policy. Sam has served as ecological policy consultant to the World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and World Wildlife Fund International. While a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, his field research on one of the world’s most endangered bat species led directly to a tropical forest restoration project designed to enlarge the species’ critical habitat. He also created the country’s first nature interpretive center, at Subic Bay, which served approximately 140,000 visitors per year from 2000-2009. Sam subsequently worked with 1st, 4th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers in the U.S. developing and testing outdoor, inquiry-based curricula as a National Science Foundation Fellow. With The Biomimicry Institute, he has developed professional development courses for teachers, science curricula now being used in schools across the country, and exhibit and programmatic materials featured at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and elsewhere. Sam also consults with corporate clients doing research and training on biomimicry for corporate R&D staff.
Findhorn College, The Park, Findhorn, Forres, IV36 3TZ
Tel: 01309 690806,