Designs Inspired by Nature
In this module, students learn that offspring are like, but not exactly like, their parents. They observe photographs of parents and offspring to look for similarities and differences.
Offspring need their parents for survival. The offspring communicate their needs in different ways. Students develop an understanding that animals communicate for various reasons. Offspring might cry to indicate they are hungry, or an animal might dance to attract a mate. Students learn about the different forms of communication and categorize them into four groups: sight, hearing, touch, and smell.
Besides communication, plants and animals have other ways to meet their needs. Students discover how plants and animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs. They learn that some animals use the external parts of their bodies to communicate. Then, students follow the engineering design process to design a set of animal ears with a specific function.
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Engineers are inspired by many things. Students learn that inspiration can come from nature. This is called biomimicry. Students explore how animals mimic the eyes of other organisms as a form of communication. Students apply this knowledge, as they design a mask for a scarecrow that keeps birds away.
After students develop an understanding of plant and animal external parts, they use the design process to design an outdoor shelter, inspired by nature, that remains dry inside, is hidden from sight, and keeps out animals.