Honorable Mention - Middle School, National

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

2023 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: Kalispell Middle School
Location: Kalispell, MT, USA
Coach: Annie Gustafson, Ashley Skare
Team members: Bowman Carlson, Nicholas Neils, Roane Wiersma, Trevor Hammer

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Innovation Details

What is the problem your team solved for this challenge? What is the problem addressed? How is the problem connected to the selected SDG?

Our team has decided to look into the problem of earthquake damage and cost. We decided on creating a sustainable house called Earthproof. Earthproof is our way of solving the United Nations ninth goal; creating sustainable industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Our biomimicry design will help reduce the cost of creating newer houses and sustaining damage after each earthquake, thus helping reduce the overall cost of earthquakes. We hope our biomimicry design will soon become a reality and help people all around the world at risk of losing their homes.

How was your solution inspired by nature? What (at least two) organisms did you learn from? How effectively did you combine the biological strategies for the final design?

Our solution to the problem of earthquakes was inspired by nature in a few ways. First, the dodecahedron shape of the whole structure and the hexagonal pattern in the walls are inspired by the shape of beehives. Secondly, the roots are based on trees and the foam from the spongy shock resistant woodpecker skull. We combined our biological models efficiently. The first thing was using the hexagons which don’t take up space and put foam to resemble bird tissue inside them. We also maximized efficiency by making our roots small but spread out like trees along with many other things.

What does your design solution do? How does it solve or mitigate the problem you selected? How did what you learn inform your design?

Our design helps with damage caused by earthquakes. About $4.4 billion dollars annually are spent each year on earthquakes. We want to decrease that amount. We learned that the woodpeckers have spongy bones to help absorb the 22 beats a second. Bees build their hives with a honeycomb structure to make the most of their space and to help make the structure stronger. Lastly, the Jackpine roots root downward before spreading out. Putting all of this together we  have the walls lined with honeycomb filled with a foamy substance to represent the woodpecker and then we have our model.