Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature

By Megan Northcote

Pick a nice fall day to take your classroom outside and get inspired by the latest STEM title, Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature, opens a new window. In this succinct introduction to biomimicry, students meet eight scientists across the globe whose observations of the natural world have led to some pretty remarkable inventions. The first page spread introduces the invention, such as Korean industrial designer Pak Kitae’s idea for a bottle that collects drinking water from desert mist. Turn the page, and you’ll be fascinated to learn about a specific property of a plant or animal that inspired the invention. In this case, it was Kitae’s childhood observation of a Namibian beetle’s bumpy back that allowed it to collect water, which led him to mimic the shape of the beetle’s body in designing his bottle. Other fascinating biomimicry inventions presented include a bullet train with a nose shaped like a kingfisher’s bill and a type of industrial tape called Geckskin that’s strong enough to mount a motorcycle to the wall using the same properties that allow a gecko’s feet to stick to the ceiling! 

Bold, vivid illustrations bring to life the different natural environments where the observations were made, from deep in the ocean to the banks of the Niger River. Detailed sketches of sharkskin and rice plant fungi as seen under a microscope reveal the secrets hidden in nature that are just waiting for scientists to discover. The backmatter discusses the diverse ethnic and occupational backgrounds of the scientists highlighted. And most useful for teachers is the page titled “How to be a Mimic Maker,” which provides websites and concrete ideas for immersing your students in nature, from journaling about observations to engineering your own biomimicry inventions. So, what are you waiting for? Check out this book, head outdoors, and let the problem solving begin!