Biomimicry: Creating the World We Want, Guided by Nature

What would nature do?
It's a question that more people are asking when it comes to design and problem-solving solutions for everything from climate change to performance sportswear. This shift in mindset is largely thanks to a concept called biomimicry. To put it simply, biomimicry involves looking to nature's patterns and systems to inspire sustainable innovations and solutions to human challenges. Maybe this is a novel concept to some but think about it for a moment. Nature is the original engineer - through evolution and adaption, the plants, animals, and organisms that make up the natural world have been able to overcome challenges to thrive.
There are numerous examples of biomimicry-informed design (some of which you will read about in this month's blog articles). A bat's use of echolocation is studied to improve sonar systems. A mosquito's mouth inspired the creation of a painless needle for use in medical applications. Birds of all shapes and sizes have served as models for designing lighter, more efficient, more aerodynamic aircraft.
To create a sustainable future, we must look to nature as a model to design systems, structures, products, and services that are regenerative and sustainable. We can make this mindset the norm, not the exception by teaching biomimicry to students, from kindergarten through high school. This month, GreenNotes examined biomimicry's place in the K-12 classroom with stories from Strategic Energy Innovations, the Biomimicry Institute, and Oak Park High School.
Feature Articles

Learning from Nature: SEI's Biomimicry Curriculum Sparks Innovation in the Classroom

Biomimicry Empowers Students with GreenSTEM Learning Experiences

Bringing Biomimicry to Oak Park: One Approach to Integrating Biomimicry into the K-12 Curriculum

Butterflies and Biomimicry

Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine. 
Learn with Green Schools National Network

2020 Green Schools Conference and Expo

When: March 2 - 4, 2020
Where: Hilton Portland Downtown, Portland, Oregon

Don't miss this opportunity to learn from and network with educational leaders, green building professionals, nonprofit partners, and others who are passionate about the future of green schools. Five tracks of programming will be offered:  

Track 1: Healthy School Environments
Track 2: Driving Cultural & Behavioral Change
Track 3: Kickstarting Sustainability Programs in Schools
Track 4: Designing Schools for the Future
Track 5: Engaging & Empowering Students

Both full and daily passes are available. Register before December 20, 2019 to save with early bird rates. Special room discounts are also available at the Hilton Portland Downtown until February 17, 2020.

Become a Green Schools National Network member and receive discounted registration pricing! Learn more about becoming a member.

Sustainability Leadership: Driving Innovation for a Prosperous Future

Who: Executive Level and Building Level School Leaders
When: March 30 - 31, 2020
Where: Old Donation School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Cost: Catalyst Network Members: $100
          GSNN Members: $200
          Non-Members: $250

Join Green Schools National Network and 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Award recipient Virginia Beach City Public Schools for a 1.5 day exploration of Sustainability Leadership: Driving Innovation for a Prosperous Future. This site seminar is designed for Executive Level and Building Level leaders who are interested in learning how sustainability can help their districts reduce expenses while decreasing their ecological footprints; improve the health and well-being of those who work, learn, and play in their schools; and prepare students for college and careers in a future that will require new ways of thinking and learning. The site seminar will highlight how sustainability leaders, informed by Harvard University's Executive Education in Sustainability Leadership program, have developed purpose-driven ideas to drive innovation in organizational culture, operations and management, and teaching and learning.

Exploring the Legacy of Wangari Maathai in Kenya

Who:  K-12 Educators
When:  July 14 - 27, 2020
Where:  Kenya, Africa, including stops in Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, and Masai Mara
Cost:  $5,575 (based on a minimum of seven participants). Cost includes meals, accommodations, and activities as indicated in the itinerary; in-country transportation; full-time guide for the duration of the program; bottled water on the bus; and carbon offset. Does not include international airfare, estimated at $1,625 from Orlando, gratuities, or items of a personal nature. Other departure cities are available.

Exploring the Legacy of Wangari Maathai is a 13-day adventure designed for educators that follows the footsteps of the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate. This field-based learning experience incorporates themes of cultural exchange, service-learning, and sustainability. Participants will receive transdisciplinary learning experiences that will deepen their understanding of the complexities that surround global environmental issues and inspire action. This professional learning experience provides the following opportunities:
  • Learn about Wangari Maathai by visiting her birthplace and the foundations, institutes, and programs that continue to advance her work;
  • Live and work with members of the Green Belt Movement;
  • Design curriculum for your classroom that integrates Wangari Maathai programs and ideas; and
  • Explore one of the world's most important and unique natural resources - the African Plains.
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