This collection of activities provides a high school level introduction to the concept of biomimicry, along with instruction to support student use of the resources on the AskNature website to apply biomimicry to any design challenge.


At the high school level, there are many places to incorporate concepts. Student thinking delves into more complex examples of innovations inspired by nature. To be able to apply biomimicry to engineering design challenges, students need to truly understand the role of function in biomimicry. This bundle of activities focuses on helping students better understand functions as they apply in both natural strategies and designed objects/systems. This will enable them to utilize the AskNature website as a resource for any engineering design challenge they are asked to address.

Relevant Standards

Some examples of high school level engineering design-related challenges paraphrased from the Next Generation Science Standards are listed below. To read more about the standards and three dimensions, please click on the links.

High School Engineering Design Concepts

  • Analyze a challenge and specify constraints  (HS-ETS1-1)
  • Design a solution to a real-world problem (HS-ETS1-2)
  • Evaluate a solution to a real-world problem accounting for many criteria (HS-ETS1-3)
  • Model solutions (using computer simulations) (HS-ETS1-4)

Physical Science Concepts

  • Refine chemical system design to produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium (HS-PS1-6)
  • Communicate about why molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials (HS-PS2-6)
  • Design a device to convert one form of energy to another (HS-PS3-3)
  • Communicate about how some tech devices use wave behavior and interactions to transmit information and energy (HS-PS4-5)

Life Science Concepts

  • Design a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and (HS-LS2-7)
  • Create a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity (HS-LS4-6)

Earth and Space Science Concepts

  • Evaluate design solutions for utilizing energy and mineral resources (HS-ESS3-2)
  • Evaluate a technological solution that reduces impacts of humans on natural systems (HS-ESS3-4)

Thin Air

Kick off learning about biomimicry with this engaging, short graphic comic. Challenge students to break down the message of the comic – could our future be made from thin air?  Facilitate a discussion or group work where students brainstorm ways that the concept of learning from nature could be applied, and examples they know about where this method has been used.

Exploring Function

This trio of activities from the Biomimicry Institute does an excellent job both getting students interacting with objects in nature, and also starting to think about biomimicry in terms of natural functions as inspiration to address functions of human design problems.

Start with “Seeing” Function which utilizes students’ sense of touch to become more familiar with structures in nature and their purpose or function. Next, Function Junction challenges students to see everything around them with a new lens. Lastly, We Are Not Alone directly compares natural design to human engineered designs to recognize parallels in function.

Explore AskNature

AskNature provides a unique resource for both students and professionals to be able to utilize function as a means to identify both biological strategies from nature and human innovations that utilize these strategies. Understanding how to use this resource is key to students incorporating biomimicry into the engineering design challenges posed to them through their curriculum.

The two activities below were designed specifically for students to recognize what the site offers and its importance. Once understood, AskNature provides a resource that can be used by students into the future.

Examples of Biomimicry

Elaborate on student understanding of biomimicry by sharing numerous examples and stories. Each resource below contains video or audio showcasing different examples of successful innovations inspired by nature.

Wild-Inspired Robotic Arms

Let students apply all that they have learned in an activity from PBS Learning Media that gets them designing. Also provided below are links to both the Biological Strategy and Innovation pages related to this activity.

Extended Learning: Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge

The Biomimicry Institute’s Youth Design Challenge is a free design competition and project based learning experience that empowers students in grades 6-12 to reimagine a sustainable world with nature-inspired design. Learn more and register at