How did a termite study turn into an entire shopping complex?

Eastgate Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe

On any given day, temperatures in Zimbabwe range from 35 to 104 degrees. However, termites aren’t affected by these wild swings. In fact, the insects thrive on a steady diet of fungus that requires a stable temperature (around 87 degrees) and humidity for optimum growth in the mounds.

The termite mound structure and function inspired a design for Zimbabwe’s largest office complex. During the day, warm air is stored in concrete. As evenings turn cold, this stored air warms the building, and low-energy fans pull in and circulate cool, fresh air. When temperatures outside begin to rise again, that cool nighttime air is still moving through the building.

Building owners saved over $3.5 million and use less than 10% of the energy it typically takes to power a complex of its size.

Photo by Gary Bembridge

INSPIRING OUR NEXT GENERATION OF INNOVATORS

In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.

Baba Dioum

Biomimicry in education

Our goal is to build the world’s first integrated and cross-cutting Pre-K through postsecondary biomimicry education ecosystem. Taking STEM to STE(A)M, we integrate biology, chemistry, engineering, social studies, language arts, creative arts and other subjects.

Biomimicry provides students with a deep connection to nature's genius, igniting passion, wonder and curiosity. Biomimicry helps advance key skills and behaviors in students, like environmental and community responsibility, and support a 21st century STEM education focused on science and engineering practices.

The ability to leverage nature’s genius is an emerging skill set – one that has the potential to enhance student success at all levels of education and ultimately lead students down career paths based on biomimicry. In turn, we’ll meet employer demand for talented critical thinkers and creative problem solvers.

TRAINING & WORKSHOPS

Our Biomimicry Educator Academies give PK-12 educators the knowledge and tools needed to use biomimicry in the classroom and during community programs.

One-day, three-hour and custom workshops are also available for educators. Contact us for more information or to book a program for your school, museum or nature center: [email protected] or 440-366-4221.

PARTNERS IN OUR EDUCATION ECOSYSTEM

We’re currently working with schools in Akron, Cleveland and Lorain County and with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We develop educational programs for a wide range of audiences. With a desire to branch out and reach more people, we are discussing ideas with local park districts and museums. Contact us if you want to join our ecosystem of partners or request a program.

Girl with Butterfly

Higher Education

University of Akron

BIOMIMICRY FELLOWSHIPS

Thanks to a collaboration with our organization, The University of Akron offers the world's only Ph.D.-level training in biomimicry through their Integrated Bioscience Program. The program has attracted students from all over the world to study and work in Northeast Ohio. 

Within the program, Biomimicry Ph.D. Fellows complete a five-year curriculum, which includes part-time work with a corporate, industry or education sponsor arranged by our agency. 

Education fellows and teachers participate in research and help design biomimicry teaching tools and curriculum that align with content standards and learning outcomes. See our current school partners.

Corporate fellows are embedded into businesses and industry – doing research and development, evaluating operations and spurring innovation. Fellows help companies look at processes through a biomimetic lens, tapping into nature's 3.8 billion years of genius. See our current corporate sponsors.

In May 2017, the first two students in the world with Ph.D.-level training in biomimicry graduated from our program at The University of Akron. 

  • Bor-Kai (Bill) Hsiung, who was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, led game-changing research inspired by blue tarantulas that could revolutionize how colors are manufactured. He successfully designed and manufactured a proof-of-concept prototype that has commercialization potential resulting from biological research.
  • Emily Kennedy, sponsored by GOJO Industries, influenced biologically-based improvements for energy-efficient soap dispensers, protective topical treatments, versatile dispenser brackets and infection control products/processes. She was an inventor on four GOJO patent applications. 
  • Bill and Emily also formed Hedgemon, an early startup business in Cleveland that is developing a hedgehog-inspired product for use in helmets as concussion prevention.
If your organization would like to harness the power and potential of biomimicry through the Fellowship program, contact us at [email protected].
BRIC

The Biomimicry program is run through The University of Akron's Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) which is dedicated to biomimicry research, design, training and teaching as it helps to catalyze invention powered by nature-inspired technologies.

LORAIN COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

At our Great Lakes Biomimicry Technology Center in the Desich SMART Center at Lorain County Community College, we are working with university tech transfer and open innovation. Lorain County Community College has been a strong partner of our work.

BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY

Expanding higher education

As one of our educational partners, Baldwin Wallace University gets students excited about using biomimicry as a creativity, innovation and problem-solving tool. Freshmen can enroll in a First Year Experience course that introduces them to biomimicry or enter higher-level Biomimicry courses through undergraduate and MBA programs. Learning is amplified through out-of-class experiences and course projects.

Living and learning from nature

Students can live with like-minded peers in a biomimicry-themed residence on campus. Not only is the residence in harmony with nature, but it’s creating a cohort of students willing to think differently – using Life’s Principles. Lessons learned are captured and used to inspire solutions to social and environmental problems facing us today.

BRANCHING OUT

We are working with other regional institutions of higher learning, like Cleveland Institute of Art, Oberlin College and Hiram College, and foster collaborations around education, biomimicry clubs and environmental programs.

Biomimicry Fellows

Rebecca Eagle-Malone

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Sebastian Englehardt

Ross Environmental Services, Inc.

Daphne Fecheyr-Lippens

Parker Hannifin

Sarah Han

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Stephen Howe

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems

Banafsheh Khakipoor

Avon Lake Regional Water & TIES

Daniel Maksuta

Kimberly-Clark

Sarah McInerney
The J.M. Smucker Company

Derek Miller

Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Adam Pierce

Akron Public Schools

Ariana Rupp

Nottingham Spirk

Kelly Siman

ODNR & Cleveland Water Alliance 

Lamalani Siverts

Avon Lake Regional Water & TIES

Elena Stachew 
ODNR, Cleveland Water Alliance & Biohabitats

Michael Wilson

Lubrizol

Connecting Educators

We connect and cross-pollinate regional educators of all kinds through the Consortium. Creative biomimicry lessons, resources and experiences are shared, and members tap into a supportive, knowledgeable community in both face-to-face and virtual spaces.

Membership in the Consortium is free, including attendance at quarterly sessions. Join us on September 11 for the fall meeting! To get your name on the list and receive updates, fill out this form

Germinature

Follow the blog co-authored by the Biomimicry PhD fellows for insights, opinions and our take on nature-inspired ideas for Northeast Ohio.

Read More
 

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