Beyond Benign

Elementary School

CUR ES 3rd Grade

3rd Grade

Animal Adaptations and Engineering Design Overview

In this unit, students will explore examples of biomimicry technologies and examine traits that have enabled animals to adapt to their environment. Students will then consider how animal adaptations can help them design a shelter that would withstand severe weather conditions.

Animal Adaptations and Engineering Design: 01 Form and Function

In this lesson, students will take an active role in understanding adaptations and evolution as they evaluate the effectiveness of various bird beaks for different kinds of food. This lesson will set the stage for the rest of the unit, as students learn that function is the intersection of biology, chemistry, and design.

Animal Adaptations and Engineering Design: 02 ABC’s of Biomimicry

This lesson introduces biomimicry and connects animal adaptations to examples of technologies inspired by animal forms. Students decode the word biomimicry and learning about its relevance through assigned readings.

Animal Adaptations and Engineering Design: 03 Animal Homes

In this lesson, students will be asked to research animal homes from different environments. They will use their research in the final lesson of the unit to design a shelter based on animal homes that would keep them safe when exposed to severe weather.

Animal Adaptations and Engineering Design: 04 Building with Biomimicry

The unit wraps up with the students utilizing the engineering design process to design a shelter that holds up to extreme weather conditions. Students will use the animal homes they researched in Lesson 3 for sources of inspiration as they design their shelter.

Blue Mussels: Expert Sustainable Engineers Overview

This unit begins by introducing students to biomimicry through a matching game. Then, students will gather data to compare the usefulness of glue in both dry and wet environments, as well as investigate where yarn gets it strength, in order to explore how mussels have innovated to stick in their environments and consider how scientists can use that information to make better products.

Blue Mussels: Expert Sustainable Engineers: 01 Exploring Sustainable Innovations

This lesson will introduce students to biomimicry, first by decoding and defining the word, then by an interactive matching game. The lesson wraps up by introducing blue mussels through reading.

Blue Mussels: Expert Sustainable Engineers: 02 Stuck on Sustainability

The purpose of this lab is to encourage students to think about the performance of a glue by investigating how changing the environment affects its adhesive properties. Students will gather data to later analyze and draw conclusions from as a class.

Blue Mussels: Expert Sustainable Engineers: 03 Adaptation Investigation

This lab focuses on animal adaptations by emulating the byssal threads in both the blue and ribbed mussel. Students will use yarn to simulate a byssal thread and collect data related to the strength of the yarn.

Blue Mussels: Expert Sustainable Engineers: 04 Survival of the Stickiness

This lesson wraps up this unit by having the students reflect on their experiments from the previous lessons and extend their learning about connections between biomimicry and green chemistry. Students will discuss the conclusions they drew from each experiment and analyze their data from Lesson 2 as a class. They will then consider how biomimicry can be applied to solve other problems in science and engineering.