Lesson video

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Hello, my name is Mr. Donnelly.

I'm a design technology teacher.

This is the first lesson in a unit of five.

The theme is design in the natural world, and this lesson focuses on the understanding of two terms. One of them is biomimicry, and the next is biomorphic.

I hope you enjoy the lesson.

So in this lesson, we're going to focus on four key points.

The first one is we're going to look at how nature can inspire designers.

We're going to look at the meaning of the word biomimicry, the meaning of the word biomorphic, and then you're going to have a look and see if you can be inspired by nature yourself.

There's going to be two things that you need to take part in the lesson.

The first one is going to be some paper.

Ideally, this will be plain.

The second will be a pencil or pen.

To fully understand the lesson, there are two terms that we need to get to grips with.

The first one is the meaning of the word biomimicry.

I always think it's a good idea if you can gain an understanding of where the word comes from.

There are two parts to this word.

The first part is bio.

Have you heard the word bio before? Have a think.

I bet you've heard biofuel, bio-diesel, biodegradable, biology.

There are many, and the word bio comes from a Greek word which is bios and it means organic life.

Whenever you hear the word bio at the start of a word, it will normally be related to life.

The next part of this word is mimic.

You might've heard the word mimic, to mimic someone, that means to impersonate.

So if we've got bio, mimic, so biomimicry, the whole word that you can see now, biomimicry, you say it as well, please, biomimicry.

You can guess that this means that we're going to look at nature and copy it.

It's not just the way that nature looks.

It's the way that nature works.

And nature has gone through evolution for nearly 4 billion years.

That's an awful lot of research and development to make sure that it functions well.

So what does biomorphic mean? We'll break down the word again.

It's got the same beginning as the previous word, bio.

Which country does that word stem from? That's it, Greece.

So it's from the word bios, which is a Greek word, and that means organic life.

The next part of the word is morphic.

You might've heard the word morph.

To morph into something would mean that you would change your appearance.

So the word morphic, it means to take the form of.

So if we put those two words together, we've got biomorphic.

And this means that designers will look to nature to inspire the way that something looks.

So the difference between biomimicry and biomorphic means that biomimicry means that designers will look to nature to help solve a design issue.

And biomorphic means that they will look to nature to inspire the way that something looks.

Nature has gone through evolution for nearly 4 billion years to be as perfect as it is.

So it's a great source of inspiration for solving problems and making sure that things look amazing.

We're now going to look at a couple of examples where nature has been used to inspire.

On this slide, to the left, you can see a kingfisher.

And to the right, you can see a high-speed train.

If you look closely at the pictures, do you think that the train has been inspired from the way that the kingfisher looks, or to do with the way that the kingfisher moves? It's an incredibly fast moving bird.

If we think back to what biomimicry and biomorphic mean, what arguments could be made that this is an example that covers both? The train has clearly been inspired by the way that the kingfisher looks, but it also takes inspiration from the speed.

And the fact that that beak of the kingfisher is so aerodynamic, that it would also be a good function for the train to copy.

In this slide, it might be a little bit easier to work out whether it's biomimicry or biomorphic.

We've got a picture of a beetle, an actual beetle that could crawl around, and we've got a picture of a car which is also called a Beetle.

There's no way that you could think that the car is an example of biomimicry, because the car doesn't actually mimic the way that the beetle functions.

What it does is it used biomorphic.

So biomorphism has been used as a way to inspire the shape and the way that the car looks.

So this one would be biomorphic, not biomimicry.

This example could also be a little bit tricky.

We've got a bird feeder that's made out of clear acrylic.

And I think the idea is that you stick this to a pane of glass and you can watch the birds from inside your house as they go into the acrylic bird feeder to have some of the seeds.

It's held onto the glass with suction cups.

The suction cups look the same as the tentacles on the octopus and they also function the same.

So you could say that it's both.

My own personal opinion, is that really this is biomimicry.

I think that the function of the suction on the octopus tentacle has been taken directly to inspire the way that the suction cup works on the bird feeder.

You could say, yeah, but they look the same as well.

But they look like they do to function the way they do.

If we were to change the way that the suction cup looked, it might not perform that perfect seal when the suction cup actually pushes onto the glass.

If ever you've pushed a suction cup onto glass, it squashes.

And when you squash them, you create a vacuum within the little space.

If we went and changed the shape, it'd be possible that you didn't create a vacuum and it wouldn't actually work.

So the biomimicry function has been copied because it works the same.

There is biomorphism because it looks the same, but it looks like it's meant to work.

So if we went and changed the way that it looks, it's quite possible that your design would not work.

So I'm having it as biomimicry.

If you wrote on a piece of paper an argument for both, in a way they're both correct, because they do look the same and they work the same.

So this is an interesting one as well.

Here, we've got a shell, and we've got a glass window on the windscreen of a car.

Do you think it's biomimicry, or do you think it's biomorphic? Which one do you think? Maybe write it down on a piece of paper, just so that you've committed to an answer.

Now there's no way that the car window looks like the shell.

So through process of elimination, you might have worked out that the car window is not biomorphic.

Depending on how much you know about shells, the inside lining of a shell is incredibly hard.

And it's that hard coating from the shell which has been used to inspire a scratch resistant surface that's on a car windscreen.

So this is a biomimicry, where a design that functions from nature has been used to inspire the car windscreen.

On this slide, I'll give you just a moment to read the words yourself.

So as you've gathered, nature is the way it is through evolution.

Evolution has taken around 4 billion years to allow all bio plant life and animals to have got to the position that they're in now.

Many of them have solved lots of problems that designers face each day.

So on this slide, I'm asking the question, can we use biomimicry to help with these four issues? These four issues are quite common.

Many designers have to overcome these on a daily basis.

The first one is grip.

Sometimes grip and extra friction is needed.

Sometimes parts need to be cooled down.

They can get hot with friction and hot, just being out in that atmosphere, depending on where they are in the world.

Some things that designers come up with, need to go fast, and some things need structural strength.

Some things that designers design, actually might combine more than one of these issues that they need to overcome.

This slide shows two creatures that are similar.

One of them is a gecko, the one to the left, and the photo to the right shows that of a lizard.

There's a film I watched a while ago, Mission Impossible 4, I think Ghost Protocol, I think it's called.

And the character, Ethan Hunt has to climb out of a window in a really high building, all made of glass, in Dubai.

And he wears these special gloves that have got a grippy pattern, exactly the same as the gecko.

And that allows him to climb up the building.

If you've not seen it, well worth a watch.

And then you'll be able to think maybe those gloves were inspired by the paws or claws, I'm not sure what they're called, of a gecko.

The next photo shows a lizard.

Now, where I've been on holiday recently, I've seen lizards climb walls, trees.

It's as if they're just defying gravity and nature has come up with these solutions that designers could face as well.

So if you were thinking, I need to design something that needs extra grip, maybe you could look to nature for a solution yourself.

This slide shows two animals.

One common, is a dog and the other one a little less common, is a zebra.

Now, when a dog wants to cool down, it simply just sticks his tongue out.

As the air passes over the dog's tongue, evaporation takes place.

And then this in turn, cools the dog down, similar to the way that humans sweat.

The zebra, far more fascinating, I didn't know this fact until I was researching for this lesson, but because it has got two different colours, black and white, the black actually absorbs heat and the white reflects heat.

So with these two colours side by side, it actually makes the air travel over the surface of the zebra's body at a slightly different pace.

And in turn creates almost like a draught above the skin of the zebra.

So fascinatingly, the two colours side-by-side create what's known as almost like a little micro-climate above the surface of the zebra and this cools it down.

So all it needs to do to keep cool is just stand in the sun and let the small draught just happen.

Just because of the way that the air moves due to the two different colours.

Going fast is something that a lot of design engineers have worked on for centuries.

Planes, especially fighter planes, copy the way that birds change their wing shape when they go into a dive.

So when a fighter plane wants to go faster, sometimes the wings can actually move and it's exactly the same as what happens with birds.

So when a bird, especially a bird of prey, goes down to hunt, it will change the shape of its wings and allow it to dive down faster.

So there's no doubt that the aerodynamics of a fighter plane have been taken through biomimicry based upon that of a bird.

Some sports cars have moved their engines to the rear.

This replicates where the huge amount of power can come from in the cat that's shown.

So if you're thinking how have designers use biomimicry to help things go fast? There's two examples on this slide that should help you believe that it's true.

Structural strength is something that's really important in our world, whether we're designing buildings, transport, bridges, houses.

Pretty much anything that's built needs to have enough structural strength so that it won't collapse and it will stay in one place.

These two pictures of a honeycomb made by a bee and a spider's web made by a spider, both give natural examples of how nature has evolved to produce a perfect structure which is still copied by people today.

We're getting towards the end of the lesson, now.

Once I've talked about this slide, press pause, read the contents of the slide yourself, so that you're really clear on what the task is.

I've tried to teach you the meaning of the word biomimicry and biomorphic.

I've also covered where those two words come from, the fact that you can try to remember a word by breaking down the word into the parts.

So we had bio mimicry and bio morphic.

There's an exit quiz at the end of this lesson that you'll be able to fill out.

I'm sure you'll do really well.

What I'd like you to do now is to produce a mood board so that you can collect your own evidence to show that nature has solved design issues.

Assuming that you like grip, and you think I enjoyed looking at the slides about the gecko and the lizard, you'll make a mood board either on a computer or a tablet, or you could even print out some pictures, cut them out and stick them to a sheet of paper.

But all the images that you find for your mood board must be associated with how nature has solved the issue of grip and friction.

You might decide to make a mood board with your own design situation.

So it might not be one of the four that I picked.

You could come up with your own.

Or what you could do is to split your page into four and try to come up with a mood board, a small one, for each of the four design problems that I came up with.

As long as you're researching how nature has solved the same problems that designers face everyday, that would be brilliant.

I hope you've enjoyed the lesson.

Thank you very much.