Biomimicry STEM Challenge

Oct 30, 2018

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Christie Wyman

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Looking for a fun STEM challenge with a twist for your class or school community? Look no further than biomimicry! What's biomimicry? It's solutions to everyday problems that are inspired by the wonders of nature. Curious? Check out Wonderopolis Wonder of the Day #1729: What Is Biomimicry.

And now for the Biomimicry STEM Challenge!

Goal: Design a gadget that uses a plant or animal part to help solve a problem in your classroom or school. This challenge provides an opportunity to gather as a community of engineers, celebrating the design and engineering process.

Objectives:

  • Students will participate in a design challenge, based on biomimicry, to design a gadget to solve a problem in their classroom or school. The gadget will be based on an animal or plant part.
  • Students will develop an understanding about material literacy in determining what materials would be a good or poor choice for this challenge.
  • Students will collaborate with one another to discuss potential problems that need solving and how plants and animals can help them in solving that problem. This will promote the soft skills of teamwork, collaboration, and negotiation with one another.

Standards addressed: (NGSS or your state's adaptations):

  • PreK-LS1-1(MA). Compare, using descriptions and drawings, the external body parts of animals (including humans) and plants and explain functions of some of the observable body parts.
  • K-LS1-1. Observe and communicate that animals (including humans) and plants need food, water, and air to survive. Animals get food from plants or other animals. Plants make their own food and need light to live and grow
  • 1-LS1-1. Use evidence to explain that (a) different animals use their body parts and senses in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water, and air, and (b) plants have roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits that are used to take in water, air, and other nutrients, and produce food for the plant.
  • 2-LS2-3(MA). Develop and use models to compare how plants and animals depend on their surroundings and other living things to meet their needs in the places they live.
  • 3-LS4-2. Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals within the same species may provide advantages to these individuals in their survival and reproduction.
  • K-2.DTC.b.1. Collaboratively use digital tools and media resources to communicate key ideas and details in a way that informs, persuades, and/or entertains.
  • 3-5.DTC.b.1.Communicate key ideas and details individually or collaboratively in a way that informs, persuades, and/or entertains using digital tools and media-rich resources.

Challenge Steps:

  • All School assembly where challenge is introduced to all students.
  • Class brainstorming sessions.
  • Class design process. Each class selects one design to prototype, test, and submit.
  • Class written descriptions. Each class writes a "How To" paragraph using Google Docs explaining how their gadget works OR
  • Class promotional videos. (Click here to view promotional video for The Wonder Web, designed by my Kindergarten engineers!)
  • Label gadget with a class chosen name (eg. Our Cool Prototype).
  • Regardless if your class is doing the how-to or video, there should be some sort of small description of the gadget so that others will understand what the purpose of the gadget is and what type of animal/plant part was used to create the gadget.
  • Voting.
  • Whole School Challenge Assembly with promotional video Award ceremony. Official gadget winner announced and promotional video slideshow viewing.


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