Tuesday, December 18, 2012


At FableVision, I often get to work with museums, which is the best! Even better, when I'm given the chance to work with museums directly engaged in teaching the public about Science. We were recently approached by our friends across the channel, the New England Aquarium, to help develop an app on Biomimicry. The project is part of a larger initiative on Global Climate Change and Ocean Education.

The New England Aquarium, collaborating with other aquariums across the country, is leading a national effort to enable aquariums to effectively communicate the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine animals, habitats and ecosystems. Our goal is to build on visitors’ emotional connection with ocean animals, connect to their deeply held values, help them understand causes and effects of climate change and motivate them to embrace effective solutions.

What is biomimicry, you ask? It's when we look to nature for inspiration, examining systems and organisms to find ways to solve challenges and improve technology. An example you've probably heard of is Velcro, the hook-and-loop fastener system inspired by the tiny hooks on sticky burrs.

The app in development will be used by staff interpeters to get people thinking about the importance of our relationship with nature. We're still doing early testing, but in this post I've included a series of illustrations I created to introduce each topic on biomimicry (in a fun way). The above image of the whale shows how wind technology is looking to the contour of humpback whale flippers to improve the energy effiency of wind turbines. Seriously, look it up!

Below are other examples...

involving solar technology inspired by trees (this one is a mangrove),

fuel efficient cars inspired by the design of the boxfish,

cement production mimicking the way coral uses CO2 to create their skeletons,

and a coating for ships which prevents barnacles from attaching—inspired by sharks!

Like I said, we're still in the testing phase, but you'll soon be able to see this activity playing on iPads on one of your upcoming visits to the aquarium. Cool, right?

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