Integrative STEM Challenge


Biomimicry: a Vehicle to Teach the Connections between Science and Technology

STORY: The Natural Science and Technology Museum of TEECA East has asked various teams to produce a new exhibit about biomimicry that will be premiered on November 4th, 2022.  The committee has asked you to produce a sculpture and a miniature model that explains how the scientific understanding of a phenomenon in nature has led to the development of a new technology that is used in our designed world. The exhibit should be geared toward elementary school students and their family members so they can gain a better understanding of the scientific concepts as well as how the current technology works. A classic example biomimicry inspired technologies is how the superhydrophobic surface of the Lotus Leaf led to the development of RainX which helps to easily remove water droplets from a windshield.  

Coordinators: Manuel Figueroa, and Mike Ulderich

Guidelines and Components:

  1. Sculpture: The design of the sculpture should clearly demonstrate elements of the natural material and structure that give it its unique properties. This should be thought of as the centerpiece of your exhibit. For example, if a natural hexagonal shape inspired a current technology then that feature should be clearly visible in the sculpture. You have a lot of creative freedom in the design of your sculpture. Please feel free to use any materials you would like as well as prototyping tools like 3D printers or laser cutters.. 
  2. Miniature Model: The model should be a scene depicting where the natural world meets the designed world. It should clearly show how elements of nature inspired a current technology. You can think of it as the miniature models in the movie Night at the Museum. Your sculpture should fit seamlessly in this scene. A designed structure and/or sculpture should also be part of your scene. The maximum dimensions for your model are 3 ft x 2 ft x 4 ft.  Extra props for your model to complete the scene are encouraged. Make sure to have a sturdy base and back like foam core, cardboard, hardwood, acrylic, etc.
  3. Display: An attractive display accompanies the miniature model which creatively conveys the explanation of the physical structure, explains the science behind it and relates it to a contemporary technology. You are encouraged to use a foam core board. The content of the display should be thorough and technically accurate. Please cite your sources.
  4. Presentation: During the exhibition your team will present your work in the form of a mini-museum exhibit. The judges will walk around each exhibit and listen to your team’s presentation. Your presentation will be scored based on content, delivery and having all of the components.
  5. Content: The content of your display and the message of your verbal presentation is thorough and technically accurate. It shows you have gone deeper into the science and not simply scratched the surface. You should demonstrate that your team has drawn information from quality sources with a mix of well produced media (video, journal articles, and news articles).
  6. Delivery: The speakers present interesting and engaging explanations of the miniature model, the science conveyed in the display and the specific features of the sculpture. The presentation is organized, cohesive and explanations are reinforced by facts.

7. Resources: Remember to check out the Biomimicry Institute and Ask Nature for ideas.

Posted: October 3rd, 2022