Thursday, February 14, 2013

YES! Recommends: Biomimicry 3.8 Institute

Jeanine Benyus, Biomimicry
Jeanine Benyus, Biomimicry (Photo credit: AlphachimpStudio)
by Yes! magazine:

What is biomimicry? It’s not really technology or biology; it’s the technology of biology.

To Biomimicry 3.8 Institute co-founder Janine Benyus, “It’s making a fiber like a spider, or lassoing the sun’s energy like a leaf.”

The Institute connects engineers, educators, architects, designers, business leaders, and other innovators with ideas and tools that achieve a balance between continued human progress and ecosystem survival.

Benyus and the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute bring a deep affection and admiration for the natural world and its 3.8 billion years of creativity and design to students and educators.

Here are four resources that showcase biomimicry as a tool for sustainability:

Youth Education/K-12 Curricula

Biomimicry 3.8 Institute believes biomimicry lends a “hands-on, minds-on” approach for young people. With nature as the teacher, there is so much to see, smell, taste, touch, and learn. Biomimicry not only presents an innovative framework for environmental or sustainability education. It’s also an avenue to get young people excited about science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM).

You’ll find lessons for elementary, middle school, and high school, such as “Nature-Inspired Chemistry: Concrete without Quarries,” that look to nature as a template for making this a better world.

EXPLORE: Youth Education/K-12 Curricula

To access powerful learning curricula and resources for formal and informal youth educators, you will need to register with the Biomimicry Education Network. Sign-up is free, and please be assured that your email will not be shared.

Please note that YES! Magazine does its best to provide educators with easily accessible teaching tools. Email login or sign-up is becoming more common practice. We will recommend that you register only when we believe the materials are worth your time and effort.

University Curricula

Consider the Institute’s curricula, articles, charts, case studies, and teaching modules to introduce biomimicry to your students. These resources, designed by the Institute, partners, and fellow educators, span multiple perspectives and can easily be integrated into your syllabi and courses.

EXPLORE: University Curricula

Student Design Challenge

Discover the genius inside you, by exploring the genius around you.

Biomimicry 3.8 Institute sponsors international design challenges for youth (pre-kindergarten through high school) and university students. 

Youth Student Design Challenge

For the Youth Challenge, students create their biomimicry projects locally to share with their communities. Educators, parents/guardians, nature centers, regional biomimicry networks, and others are encouraged to use the Institute’s abundance of learning resources to assist their budding biomimicry scientists. There is no better way to learn about biomimicry than by doing it!

EXPLORE: Youth Student Design Challenge

Each fall the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute sponsors a Biomimicry Student Design Challenge focused on a specific real-world problem. College and university students work in teams using biomimicry concepts and tools to come up with a sustainable and innovative design solution.

This year, the theme is Water Wise. Teams must use a biomimetic design process to address a local or global challenge related to water access and management. Ten finalists were recently named from a field of 65 entries representing colleges from Antwerp, Belgium, to Santiago, Chile, to Portland, Oregon.

EXPLORE: 2012-13 University Challenge “Water Wise”

VISIT: University Student Design Challenge

Ask Nature

Ask Nature, a project of the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, was created to help you solve your design problems - for free. A site tutorial will get you going. The digital library of nature's solutions is organized by function. Use the Browse function to surf strategies, products, and people. Warning: Allow for extra time to browse. You will be inspired and mesmerized!

EXPLORE: Ask Nature

Interested in more Biomimicry 3.8 Institute resources?
On June 21-23 at the University of Massachusetts Boston, educators from around the globe will gather meet at the 7th annual conference on biomimicry. New in 2013 is a global conference, giving educators an opportunity to engage with biomimicry leaders.

  • Newsletter signup
    Biomimicry 3.8 Institute's newsletter gives you the latest on the Institute's events, materials, and programs. Plus, its newest finds on biomimicry videos and strategies. Sign up today.


The Biomimicry 3.8 Institute is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs. It brings together scientists, engineers, architects and innovators who can use those models to create sustainable technologies.

Located in Missoula, Montana, the Institute focuses on academic and public education, offering trainings, curricula, tools, and resources for schools, universities, museums, zoos, nature centers, and other public forums.
  • From Soap to Cities, Designing from Nature Could Solve Our Biggest Challenges
    Can a boat be designed to clean the water? How does a spider manufacture resilient fiber? We need products that don’t harm us or the environment, and nature’s already done the research.
  • Biomimicry in Action
    In this TEDTalk, self-proclaimed nature nerd Janine Benyus professes that if nature can orchestrate something as beautiful as spring every year, perhaps it is time to look to the natural world to answer some of our own design questions.
  • 7 Ways to Find Your Wild Side
    Color like a butterfly, eat like an ancient healer, and other ways to rediscover your inner wildness.
  • The above resources accompany the February 2013 YES! Education Connection Newsletter.

READ NEWSLETTER: What can nature teach us? :: If chalkboards could talk
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