Introducing the concept of biomimicry and its applications in engineering, the Begawan Learning Centre held a thematic lesson on biomimicry, giving students aged 8-12 years old the opportunity to experiment with the application of biomimicry in various settings, including engineering.

Learning from Nature: How Owl Wings Inspired Improved Hand Fans

During the class, the students learned how to apply the biomimicry concept to the design of hand fans. They discovered that conventional hand fans are often noisy and inefficient. To find inspiration to solve this issue, the students watched a video on the unique features of owls, known for their silent flight when compared to the flight of other birds. With this knowledge, the students were able to mimic the design of an owl’s wings to modify their hand fans, to become both more efficient and quieter.

To create their modified hand fans, the students used popsicle sticks, a plastic bottle, glue, a skewer, string and paper. They glued two popsicle sticks together in a cross shape and set the skewer through the centre. They then made a small hole in the centre of the plastic bottle and threaded a string through it, rolling the string onto the centre of the skewer. Pulling the string caused the skewer to spin, moving the fan blades and creating a breeze. The students applied these biomimicry principles to modify the fan blades inspired by owl wings using paper, then revising their trials until their fans were more efficient and quieter. 

Applying Biomimicry to Engineering: Quieter Aircraft Inspired by Owls

The class also discussed how owls inspire engineers to create quieter aircraft. The students learned that the serrations on the trailing edge of an owl’s wing break up the air passing over the wing, reducing noise. Mimicking this design, engineers have created quieter aircraft, which has already been implemented in a number of models. By studying nature and applying these principles, the students gained a deeper understanding of how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of hand fans, and how this has been applied to aircraft design.

Learning from Nature: How Owls Inspired Eco Warriors to Create Quieter and More Efficient Hand Fans 2
The facilitator gave the students an opportunity to showcase their hand fan creations in front of the class.

Finally, the students brought their modified hand fans home and enjoyed the benefits of their work. By taking inspiration from nature and applying these principles to engineering, the students discovered that they could find innovative solutions to everyday problems, leading to more efficient and sustainable products. The potential for biomimicry to lead to more sustainable and efficient products makes it a valuable concept to learn and apply in various fields, including engineering. (Desy)

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