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Bioinspired Design course. Time period over the semester shown from start (bottom) to finish (top). Lectures. (A) Two sections of lectures are delivered. (B) Lecture titles. (C) Scaffolded assignments that progress from individual (gray boxes) to team (tan boxes) and from guided topic to student or team selected. (D) Specific individual or team activity. (E) Outcome aims for each set of activities.

Bioinspired Design course. Time period over the semester shown from start (bottom) to finish (top). Lectures. (A) Two sections of lectures are delivered. (B) Lecture titles. (C) Scaffolded assignments that progress from individual (gray boxes) to team (tan boxes) and from guided topic to student or team selected. (D) Specific individual or team activity. (E) Outcome aims for each set of activities.

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The goal of our i4’s Toward Tomorrow Program is to enrich the future workforce with STEM by providing students with an early, inspirational, interdisciplinary experience fostering inclusive excellence. We attempt to open the eyes of students who never realized how much their voice is urgently needed by providing an opportunity for involvement, imag...

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... literate citizens who know how and where reliable information originates. Therefore, the foundation of our program resides in original discovery. We use the researcher's frame to situate student learning to best understand the scientific process ( Lave and Wenger 1991). We begin our lectures with those focusing on the Bioinspired Design Process (Fig. 2A, ...
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... provide the biological foundation necessary to effectively extract and translate principles, we give a series of lectures that focus on biological discovery, biodesign, bioconstraints, bioscaling, biocomplexity, and bioselection ( Fig. 2A, B; see supplement S1 for the concepts highlighted in each ...
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... remaining foundational lectures of the bioinspired design process ( Fig. 2A, B, bottom) are further developed in Supplement S1. In the BioConstraints lecture, we show students the concepts needed to navigate the results of evolution. Many students, engineers, and bioinspired design courses assume nature's creatures are optimally designed by evolution and should be copied or mimicked. We shatter these myths ...
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... the foundational lectures, students are eager to see the process applied to specific case studies of interest ( Fig. 2A, B, top). Students demand connections meaningful to them beyond those typically discussed in biology or biomimetics ( Chamany et al. 2008;Canning et al. 2018;Priniski et al. 2018). Students attracted to engineering see new career opportunities for environmental monitoring, hazard detection, and search-and-rescue from our BioMotion ...
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... accomplish this aim, we offer a series of scaffolded discussions with design laboratory sessions each week to directly complement our lectures (Fig. 2D). We begin with individual assignments to improve mastery of the approach and foster connection by encouraging students to select a personally-meaningful discovery for inspiration (Fig. 2C, bottom). We follow individual assignments with team building activities (Fig. 2C, middle) and exercises where we assign published discoveries to ...
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... accomplish this aim, we offer a series of scaffolded discussions with design laboratory sessions each week to directly complement our lectures (Fig. 2D). We begin with individual assignments to improve mastery of the approach and foster connection by encouraging students to select a personally-meaningful discovery for inspiration (Fig. 2C, bottom). We follow individual assignments with team building activities (Fig. 2C, middle) and exercises where we assign published discoveries to guide group designs. After inspiriting collaboration, teams select discoveries to inspire a novel invention that they present in brief video and poster formats at our public, end-of-semester Design ...
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... with design laboratory sessions each week to directly complement our lectures (Fig. 2D). We begin with individual assignments to improve mastery of the approach and foster connection by encouraging students to select a personally-meaningful discovery for inspiration (Fig. 2C, bottom). We follow individual assignments with team building activities (Fig. 2C, middle) and exercises where we assign published discoveries to guide group designs. After inspiriting collaboration, teams select discoveries to inspire a novel invention that they present in brief video and poster formats at our public, end-of-semester Design Showcase (Fig. 2C, D, ...
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... We follow individual assignments with team building activities (Fig. 2C, middle) and exercises where we assign published discoveries to guide group designs. After inspiriting collaboration, teams select discoveries to inspire a novel invention that they present in brief video and poster formats at our public, end-of-semester Design Showcase (Fig. 2C, D, ...
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... individual design projects, we form teams and lead students through teaming activities and collaboration training (see Aim 3). We offer two guided topic, design laboratories-Gecko Synthetic Adhesives and Insect Inspired Robots (Fig. 2D). First, we extend the scaffolding in lecture and homework assignments using gecko adhesion publications by asking teams to create a synthetic gecko-inspired adhesive using a polymer mold and then test its properties in a series of experiments (Supplement S3). In the next laboratory period, teams are given the opportunity to create a ...
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... students have completed individual and team design projects, they are sufficiently prepared to complete the final course project (Fig. 2D, top; Supplement S5). Teams have three weeks to select a benchmark biology publication, gain approval from instructors, extract the biological principle discovered (i.e., do a Discovery Decomposition), translate the principle to a conceptual design (i.e., do an Analogy Check), create a feasibility prototype, and produce a 5-min video and ...
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... are part of a design team that includes a biologist, engineer, designer, and a start-up company with entrepreneurs and business managers. We ask them to take the role of the author of the biology paper. We have them answer the team's questions based on the publication selected, proposed design invention, and bioinspired design process lectures ( Fig. 2A, B, bottom). We ask them to explain one relevant concept or principle from each lecture to their design team. This is truly a "show what you know" exam, not what you forgot. Our method encourages students to apply class principles to an authentic discovery in a creative context that interests them ...

Citations

... Nature is a fantastic entry-point for teaching [7]; almost everyone has an intuitive sense for animal behavior and locomotion from watching anything from movies to pets, pigeons, squirrels and other ubiquitous wildlife, even without realizing it. What is often needed is simply a way to think about what is already subconsciously known. ...
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Biomimetic and Bioinspired design is not only a potent resource for roboticists looking to develop robust engineering systems or understand the natural world. It is also a uniquely accessible entry point into science and technology. Every person on Earth constantly interacts with nature, and most people have an intuitive sense of animal and plant behavior, even without realizing it. The Natural Robotics Contest is novel piece of science communication that takes advantage of this intuition, and creates an opportunity for anyone with an interest in nature or robotics to submit their idea and have it turned into a real engineering system. In this paper we will discuss the competition's submissions, which show how the public thinks of nature as well as the problems people see as most pressing for engineers to solve. We will then show our design process from the winning submitted concept sketch through to functioning robot, to offer a case study in biomimetic robot design. The winning design is a robotic fish which uses gill structures to filter out microplastics. This was fabricated into an open source robot with a novel 3D printed gill design. By presenting the competition and the winning entry we hope to foster further interest in nature-inspired design, and increase the interplay between nature and engineering in the minds of readers.