Created for after school and camp programs, this eight-hour unit takes students through an engineering design challenge to create bioinspired backpacks or bags.


  • Youth will be introduced to engineering and the EiE's Engineering Design Process.
  • Youth will learn that engineers can be inspired by nature when designing technologies.
  • Youth will explore and build upon their knowledge of how animals use camouflage, different modes of protection, and bioluminescence.
  • Youth will learn there are many solutions for a single problem.
  • Youth will engineer a bag for a client meeting specific criteria and constraints.

This unit from Engineering is Elementary (EiE) introduces middle school youth to engineering and EiE’s eight-step Engineering Design Process. Students work together to design bioinspired bags or packs based on clients’ needs and criteria.

There are eight 1-hour activities, and all involve learning about bioinspiration. The first two introduce them to engineering and technology. In the next three they learn about and create designs based on camouflage, protection, and bioluminescence. In the final three activities the students design and showcase bioinspired packs or bags that they designed based on biological strategies. As youth work through their engineering design challenges, they will have the opportunity to build their problem solving, teamwork, communication, and creative thinking skills.

Resources for this unit include:

  • 10-minute Engineering Everywhere Special Report video
  • Student Engineering Notebook (available in both English and Spanish versions)
  • Educator Guide
  • A selection of additional educator resources curated by the curriculum developers

There is a moderate fee charged for the Educator Guide (print and digital access options range $49-$89), but the other resources can be accesses for free on the EiE website.  A materials kit for 24 participants is also offered for sale by EiE but, in general, most of the materials students will need can be gathered locally.

Front cover of Educator Guide 

Image: Engineering Is Elementary / Copyright © - All rights reserved

Front cover of student Engineering Notebook 

Visit the Engineering is Elementary website for more information, to purchase, for and a free 2-page preview of the curriculum.