★“Fascinating…An appealing resource sure to spark an interest in biomimicry, from casual readers to budding scientists. Recommended for all libraries.”—School Library Journal, starred review
Did you know that lamps can be powered by glowing bacteria instead of electricity? That gloves designed like gecko feet let people climb straight up glass walls? Or that kids are finding ways to make compostable plastic out of banana peels? Biomimicry, the scientific term for when we learn from and copy nature, is a revolutionary way to look to nature for answers to environmental problems such as climate change.
In Design Like Nature young readers discover innovations and inventions inspired by the environment. Nature runs the entire planet with no waste and no pollution. Can humans learn to do this too? It's time to step outside and start designing like nature.
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Copyright © Megan Clendenan and Kim Ryall Woolcock 2021
Published in Canada and the United States in 2021 by Orca Book Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Title: Design like nature : biomimicry for a healthy planet / Megan Clendenan, Kim Ryall Woolcock.
Names: Clendenan, Megan, 1977- author. | Woolcock, Kim Ryall, author.
Series: Orca footprints.
Description: Series statement: Orca footprints | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20200271709 | Canadiana (ebook) 20200271717 | isbn 9781459824645 (hardcover) | isbn 9781459824652 (pdf) | isbn 9781459824669 (epub)
Subjects: lcsh: Biomimicry—Juvenile literature. | lcsh: Technological innovations—Juvenile literature.
Classification: lcct173.8 .c442021 | ddc j600—dc23
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020939213
Summary: Part of the nonfiction Orca Footprints series for middle readers, in this book young readers discover innovations and inventions inspired by nature.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
The authors and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at the time of publication. The authors and publisher do not assume any liability for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyrighted material. The publisher apologizes for any errors or omissions and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.
Front cover images by gkuna/Getty Images and Mischa Keijser/Getty Images
Back cover images by KPWangkanont/Shutterstock.com, Mr.B-king/Shutterstock.com and Louis Hansel/Unsplash.com
Design by Teresa Bubela
Layout by Dahlia Yuen
Edited by Kirstie Hudson
Printed and bound in China.
24 23 22 21 • 1 2 3 4
For Owen and Dave, and for all our walks in the woods.—M.C.
For Douglas and Theo, my own inventors.And to all the teachers who took me outside and showed me a new world.—K.R.W.
Fireflies naturally glow at night! Nature designs in a way that doesn’t waste or pollute—and even seems a bit magical.
Tommy Tsutsui/Getty Images
Chapter One: Inventions Gone Wild
How Does Nature Design?
From Parachutes to Toothbrushes
Miracle Material…Or Not?
There is No “Away”
A Lawn Where the Cactus Should Be
Chapter Two: Nature as Engineer
It’s Easy Being Green
Pull Yourself Together!
Stuck on You
Clean as Dirt
Chapter Three: Asking Advice from Nature
Psst…Hey Nature…What would You Do?
From Beaks to Bullet Trains
Spotless as Shark Skin
Light It Up, Firefly
Super-Sticky Gecko Tape
Catch the Rain(water)
Stronger Than Steel, Made Like Yogurt
Roaches to the Rescue!
Batteries from Beaches?
Chapter Four: Reducing Our Footprint
Looking Back to Look Forward
Nature’s Building Blocks
Forest in the City
Germs Dyed My Clothes
Fishy Wind Farms
Watch, Learn, Invent
The Land of Tomorrow
Table of Contents
Seashells are not just strong—they come in just about every size, shape and color you can imagine. How’s that for great design?
Have you ever held a seashell and wondered how its delicate swirl can be so strong? Or lay down under a tree so tall it touches the clouds and wondered how it withstands the strongest winds? Nature is a genius at design.
Humans love to design too. We build huge cities, create all kinds of chemicals and make tons of electronics and plastics. But the way we design is changing our climate and creating unmanageable amounts of garbage.
What if we could learn to design like nature instead? What would it be like if we could build houses like sea creatures build their shells? Dye our clothes with germs instead of chemicals? Or make lights that run on glowing bacteria instead of electricity?
Inventors, designers and kids are all asking advice from nature and working on innovations that will let us live in better harmony with our world. Want to see how? Grab your friends and your magnifying glass and come take a peek inside nature’s toolbox!
Once my husband and I went on a six-month-long camping trip. Our only shelter was our tent. We woke with the sun and went to bed as it got dark. We didn’t waste a drop of water. We fit ourselves into the natural cycle. But we sometimes wished for a warm room and a large pizza! Dave Clendenan
Sometimes I shower with a tree frog. My family is building a house on a forested hill, and for now our shower is outside. Tiny green tree frogs like to hang out in it on hot days, leaning against my damp facecloth to stay cool. Sharing my shower with these delicate creatures has made me think hard about how we treat our planet. Douglas Woolcock
The secrets to a sustainable world are all around us.—Janine Benyus, cofounder, The Biomimicry Institute
Children of all ages have come up with inventions and designs that help protect the environment. Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Biomimicry is the scientific term for copying nature, not only to solve human problems but also to help protect our planet. Bio means “life” and mimicry means “the action of imitating,” so put them together and you’ve got the science of copying nature. Everything from the largest mammals to the tiniest bacteria has spent millions of years figuring out how to work with the natural cycles of the planet.
It’s pretty neat that nature runs on sunlight and water. Humans, on the other hand, use fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. Nature wastes nothing, but humans have left garbage pretty much everywhere on Earth. The great news is, we can change our ways. There are solutions. We just have to ask nature.
There’s more to a leaf than we can see at first glance. Kyryl Gorlov/Getty Images
Take something as common as a leaf. A leaf gains its energy to grow from the sun. By studying the structure of a leaf, we can learn more about how the leaf does this. Then we can take our new knowledge one step further and apply it to something we need, such as a more efficient solar panel. There are scientists working on that idea right now.
If we want to know how to make less-toxic glue or how to create brilliant color, nature is a fantastic teacher. When engineers, designers, architects or scientists look to nature to solve problems, they are using biomimicry.
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