Biomimicry Design Challenge Using Mind Mapping

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What kind of body do you need to crawl through tight spaces?

Looking at nature, really looking, is a way to admire and be awe-struck by the beauty and clever way that nature has solved and is still trying to solve problems. A way to uncover the poetry of nature. The irresistible  beauty of butterfly wings – look at the colours of Morpho butterfly. The tiny wings are complex structures that reflect light in such a way that specific wavelengths interfere with each other to create intensely vivid colors one could only find in nature (go here to read a blogpost at Thinkiblity – Inspired by Beauty).

Or look at the jewel caterpillar – it sure has a real wow factor. Or the striking moth below.

jewelcaterpillar-copyAcraga coa  caterpillar and moth.

Biomimicy is a way to study nature to gain inspiration for solving problems. Humans have always use nature as inspiration yet the word biomimicy is more recent.

We decided to study nature and to use nature as inspiration for a design challenge.

Our aim was to explore:  (see the branch Think Dive in the mind map)

  • What does nature do?
  • Hunt ideas
  • Study animals
  • Look at plants
  • What use is the way the animal or plant is doing something

We found some caterpillars in the park and we became fascinated by the way they moved. We decided to use caterpillars for our design challenge. We also searched the Internet for some more inspiration.

We described the some special things that we observed about caterpillars, see the branch Caterpillars in the mind map.

  • Half eaten leaves were found and we draw the conclusion that caterpillars are Hungry
  • Hairy
  • Look like plants
  • Mimic animals
  • Soft very flexible body
  • Caterpillars can roll away – see video below

Sometimes all it takes to inspire a lifelong nature lover is a glimpse at a stunning otherworldly creature from our own planet. Take for example this Jewel Caterpillar and it’s muppet-like adult moth form (pictured above). The specimen on the left was spotted in a mangrove tree by an amateur photographer and posted on Project Noah, a citizen science website, where it was identified as Acraga coa and from whence images of this critter and and questions about it’s gummy spines began circulating the Internet. Scientists don’t know exactly why the Acraga coa and other Daceridae caterpillars look the way they do, but Scientific American offers some clues in a recent blog post.

Unexpected creatures like the jewel caterpillar offer us that “wow” factor, that reminds us all just how amazing and diverse nature is, and draws us in to learn more. But even the most humble and commonplace organisms (a tree; an ant) are doing amazing things in service to life.  As biomimicry educators one of our most important roles is to share those insights; to cultivate the “wow,” which ultimately opens the door to learning from nature, not just about nature.

– See more at: http://ben.biomimicry.net/coolbio/2012/the-wow-factor/#sthash.CuhoPUoi.dpuf

Sometimes all it takes to inspire a lifelong nature lover is a glimpse at a stunning otherworldly creature from our own planet. Take for example this Jewel Caterpillar and it’s muppet-like adult moth form (pictured above). The specimen on the left was spotted in a mangrove tree by an amateur photographer and posted on Project Noah, a citizen science website, where it was identified as Acraga coa and from whence images of this critter and and questions about it’s gummy spines began circulating the Internet. Scientists don’t know exactly why the Acraga coa and other Daceridae caterpillars look the way they do, but Scientific American offers some clues in a recent blog post.

Unexpected creatures like the jewel caterpillar offer us that “wow” factor, that reminds us all just how amazing and diverse nature is, and draws us in to learn more. But even the most humble and commonplace organisms (a tree; an ant) are doing amazing things in service to life.  As biomimicry educators one of our most important roles is to share those insights; to cultivate the “wow,” which ultimately opens the door to learning from nature, not just about nature.

– See more at: http://ben.biomimicry.net/coolbio/2012/the-wow-factor/#sthash.CuhoPUoi.dpuf

We thought about ways that caterpillars have been used as inspiration for designs, for example, as inspiration for designing trucks.  We decided to use what we had learnt and observed about caterpillars to be creative and design new things.

The picture of the Jewel caterpillar made us decided that caterpillar jewellery would be nice. Or some stunning clothes that use the colours of caterpillars as inspiration for the design. Some caterpillars can be very colourful.

saddleback-caterpillar

We were fascinated by the caterpillar that quickly rolls away and we found a video that sparked lots of ideas. We watched it several times to study what the caterpillar did.

If you get stuck in a tight place it would be great to have a flexible body like the caterpillar.

A robot has been designed using the flexible caterpillar as inspiration.

Some other ideas

  • Design a new game that uses a ball that sometimes rolls away
  • Tooth brush that bends through the teeth
  • A box that is self-opening
  • A soft caterpillar toy

After all this we felt (see Feelings in the mind map)

Excited and Restless!

we wanted to see the new designs. So we searched for material to make the designs and some sketches.

You can read more about the underlying ideas for this approach to using mind mapping either at the top in the page Mind Mapping or search for blog posts about mind mapping.

BIOMIMICRY 11

Photo 1.Biomimicry Education Network -Gerardo Aizpuro, David Brownell,

Photo 2. Gerard L Lenhard

Gerardo Aizpuru (L)  and David Brownell (R)
Gerardo Aizpuru (L)  and David Brownell (R)
Gerardo Aizpuru (L)  and David Brownell (R)

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