A free, hands-on, project-based learning experience and competition in which students work in teams to explore the wonders of the natural world and apply what they learn to create innovations that support a healthier planet. 


  • Learners will build a strong foundational understanding of biomimicry.
  • Learners will investigate a problem connected to global sustainability issues.
  • Learners will explore the traits and strategies of living things for design inspiration.
  • Learners will create and refine a design innovation.
  • Learners will reflect on and present their solutions in writing, imagery, and via a video pitch.

The Youth Design Challenge (YDC) and accompanying curriculum provides a framework for formal and informal educators to introduce biomimicry as an engineering design strategy, to create relevant purposeful STEM experiences, and to provide engaging instruction aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The project is anchored by the YDC Instructional Storyline. The Storyline provides a suggested sequence of 22 connected lessons through which students explore the fascinating world of biomimicry, investigate a local sustainability problem they would like to solve, and use the engineering design process to model a nature-inspired solution to the problem. At the conclusion of this lesson sequence students are prepared to submit their innovations to the competition for awards recognition.

To access the Storyline, educators must register for the Youth Design Challenge. Doing so does not obligate you or your students to submit a competition entry.