BioLearn Secondary Schools Challenge - bringing nature inside

The BioLearn Challenge invites schools to rethink how their school and community can become more sustainable. It uses nature as the inspiration to create solutions to human design challenges. For example, buildings need to conserve heat to reduce energy use, yet nature has ways of staying warm without an external energy source; can we mimic nature's solutions? The Challenge has:

  • Real-world application for science and design.
  • Strong links with STEM and D&T curriculum.
  • Supports competences in working scientifically.
  • Supports school sustainability work.
  • Links to STEM careers and Science Capital.

Teams or individuals are invited to identify a design challenge in their school/community, explore how nature solves similar problems, and then use their insight from nature to create a solution; a process called biomimicry.

The Challenge provides opportunity to put biology, physics, chemistry and design into a real-world context. A full set of teaching resources, guidance notes and references are provided (see below).

The BioLearn Challenge is suitable for delivering face-to-face, digitally or blended learning, or as part of a STEM Club activity.

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Stage One

The first stage is to define the problem or opportunity you want your design to address. It helps to set the goal you want your design to deliver and any factors you will need to consider.

Critical in this stage is to consider the context your design will operate in and the functions (purpose) it needs to deliver.

Download activities and students worksheets.

Stage Two

In the second stage, we explore how nature could provide solutions to our design challenge. We ask how nature provides similar functions which we can learn from.

A lot of research has already been carried out which you can use, and it is also helpful to observe nature first-hand to get more inspiration.

Download activities, student worksheets and web links.

Stage Three

In the final stage, we combine insights from nature with our design challenge. How can biomimicry make our solution better and more sustainable?

Think about how to present your design solution so that it demonstrates how biomimicry has helped you. Complete the biomimicry evaluation wheel to reflect on and improve your ideas.

Download activities, student worksheets and the evaluation wheel.