In this 45-minute activity, students reverse-engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products.

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In this activity, hosted on TeachEngineering, students discover how engineers can use Biomimicry to enhance their designs. Part of the Biomimicry discovery process involves carefully observing an organism and using reverse engineering to better understand how the organism’s adaptations work.

According to the lesson plan:

“Today we are going to study a flower for design inspiration. To get ideas for new designs, we are going to reverse engineer our flower. Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technical principles of an object by taking it apart and carefully studying its different parts. Besides inspiring new designs, studying the components of the flower will also help us better understand how the flower functions as a whole. Once we understand how the flower works, we can create new designs using the flower as our natural model. Perhaps the flower is a good model for a house? A water catchment system? New waterproof materials? The possibilities are endless!”

In an extension activity, students sketch their favorite animals or plants. After sketching, they then reverse engineer it as they did with the flower, on paper or in their minds, then think of new engineering design applications inspired by their favorite animal or plant.

The lesson plan provides ideas for modifying this for younger or older children.

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