Throughout history, the natural world has inspired some of our most impressive transportation designs, drawing on the adaptive forms and behaviours that have evolved over millions of years. From the sleek lines of a dolphin inspiring the shape of a submarine to the lift generated by bird wings influencing the design of planes, humans have long looked to nature for solutions to their problems. This examination of nature provides valuable resources that can be harnessed for innovation and problem-solving, helping us to create more efficient and effective transportation solutions.

Learning the Concept of Biomimicry in Transportation

Recently, Eco-Warriors at Begawan Learning Centre have been learning about the exciting concept of biomimicry and how it can be applied to solve human problems. They were especially excited to dive into the world of transportation and explore how the natural world has influenced the design of some of our most impressive machines.

The students began their learning activities by completing three animal puzzles that provided clues about a transportation vehicle that would be discussed during the following meeting. They had a great time guessing which methods of transportation were inspired by an owl, a penguin, and a kingfisher. Some thought it was submarines, while others guessed planes, trains, or even drones! All of them presented their reasoning with confidence!

Nature - Eco Warriors building parts of Shinkansen
Eco Warriors building parts of Shinkansen

The Shinkansen Design

As the activity continued, the students learned about the incredible design of Japan’s bullet train, the Shinkansen, and how it was inspired by the kingfisher, the owl, and the penguin. The students were amazed by the facts about the train’s design, such as how its front end was re-designed to mimic the shape of a kingfisher’s beak, which reduced the noise it made when passing through tunnels. The pantograph, which connects the train to its power source, was also re-designed to look like an owl’s wing, which resulted in a quieter passage past residents near the tracks. Lastly, the supporting frame for the pantograph was reshaped like a penguin’s body to lower its wind resistance, making the train even faster!

Model Building and Competition

But the students didn’t just learn about the Shinkansen’s design; they also got their hands messy and built their own models using cardboard, Lego wheels, kokoru papers, double tape, and rubber glue. In teams, they competed in a train race competition to see whose design was the fastest and smoothest.

Nature - Eco Warriors assembling parts to make a Shinkansen
Eco Warriors assembling parts to make a Shinkansen

The Eco-Warriors at Begawan Learning Centre had a blast learning about biomimicry and how it has enriched their knowledge and awareness of transportation design. Who knows what innovative and exciting designs they’ll come up with next? The possibilities are endless when we take inspiration from the natural world! (Irham)

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