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Biomimicry

A collection of biomimicry resources and examples of how technology can imitate natural phenomena and processes. Public engagement biomimicry activity examples include: self-cleaning surfaces and fabrics inspired by the lotus leaf effect observed in some plant leaves, sticky materials inspired by gecko feet, photonics crystals using structural color similar to the iridescent properties of some insects, bird feathers, and shells.

Sticky Surfaces Inspired by Gecko Feet

Children looking at Gecko with magnifying glass

Biomimicry: From Nature to Nanotech

In this long activity, learners will engage in activities showing various natural phenomena that scientists and engineers have emulated to address human problems.
Scanning Electron Microscope of Synthetic Gecko Tape

Biomimicry: Synthetic Gecko Tape through Nanomolding

In this long activity, learners make a synthetic gecko tape with micron sized hairs that mimics that behavior of the gecko foot.
What is nano about museum labels thumbnails of signs featuring signs of hot-chocolate, hamburger, glass of water, a window, and a toilet

Nano Museum Labels (Graphic Signs)

These museum graphic labels highlight everyday connections to nanoscale science including: chocolate, food packaging, water, a window, paint, a toilet, a soap bubble, fashion, a sock, a pencil, a butterfly, a gecko, a laptop, an elevator, and a local city.
Poster image showing a gecko and gecko-inspired robot

NanoDays Key Concepts Posters

Posters showing nano key concepts.

Scientific Image - Nanotubes Mimicking Gecko Feet

Magnified image of nanotubes mimicking gecko feet using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Gecko Toe

Magnified image of a gecko's toe using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Gecko Foot

Magnified image of a gecko's foot using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Gecko Foot

Magnified image of a gecko foot using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Single Hair from a Gecko's Foot

Magnified image of a hair from a gecko's foot using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Gecko Foot

Magnified image of a gecko foot using an Optical Microscope.
Young girl stacks large blocks with images on them

Build a Giant Puzzle!

In this activity, learners assemble blocks to make images and discover how different objects are connected to nanotechnology.

Photonics and LCDs Inspired by Iridescent and Structural Color Properties

two children looking at Blue Morpho butterfly

Exploring Structures - Butterfly

In this activity, learners investigate how butterfly wings get their color and that some wings get their color from the nanoscale structures on the wings instead of pigments.
Child in a red shirt with a preserved butterfly

Butterflies

A collection of resources about butterflies that can be integrated into other programs or exhibits on butterflies. These butterfly activities and resources focus on light, color, iridescence, pigmentation versus structural color, and technology inspired by nature.
Looking at an opal through a scanning electron microscope

Colors at the Nanoscale: Butterflies, Beetles and Opals

In this activity, learners will be exposed to the term ‘Photonic Crystals,' explore some of the well-known photonic crystals in nature and will also be able observe one method that scientists use in trying to replicate this process.
Large blue and orange interactive exhibit that features the properties of blue butterfly wings on the nanoscale. Exhibit has three boxes with preserved butterflies under a light and a large sign going into detail on nanostructures

Changing Colors exhibit

An exhibit that was part of the Nanotechnology: What's the Big Deal? exhibition that shows how some high-tech nanomaterials mimic natural phenomena.
Closeup photo of Blue Morpho Butterfly

Butterfly Blues video

In this O Wow Moments video, Mr. O talks about iridescence and Blue Morpho butterflies.
Liquid crystal display activity components including signs, guides, craft materials, safety gear, and liquid crystal material

Exploring Products - Liquid Crystal Displays

In this activity, learners investigate temperature-sensitive liquid crystal sheets and liquid crystal displays from a calculator.
image of a handprint that was created using heat sensitive liquid crystals suspended in thermal paper

Exploring Materials - Liquid Crystals

In this activity, learners will investigate the properties of a heat sensitive liquid crystal and make their own liquid crystal sensor to take home.

Scientific Image - Liquid Crystal

Magnified image of liquid crystal using an Optical Microscope.

Scientific Image - Photonic Crystal

Magnified image of a photonic crystal using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Stain Resistant and Hydrophobic Surfaces Inspired by Lotus Leaf Effect in Plants

Exploring Products - Nano Fabrics acitivty components including signs, guides, and mini pants coated with nano materials

Exploring Products - Nano Fabrics

In this activity, learners investigate the hydrophobic properties of pants made from nano fabric and ordinary fabric.
Family engaging with sand, plants, and pants

Sand, Plants and Pants

In this activity, learners explore how the application of nano-sized particles or substances can change a bigger material’s properties.
A lotus leaves in a small, man-made concrete pond.

Zoom into a Lotus Leaf video

In this video, learners get an up close look at the tiny nanostructures that give the leaf its unique superhydrophobic behavior.
A screenshot of the zoom into a nasturtium leaf interactive starting with a nasturtium leaf.

Multimedia Zoom Into a Nasturtium Leaf

This downloadable and online interactive allows learners to travel from the familiar scale of nasturtium leaf to DNA deep within the plant's cell.
A person holding an ice cream cone with the text "NANO: I've never had that problem."

Nano and Me Videos

In these short videos, learners are introduced to simple fundamentals about the nanoscale; topics include the differences between macro and nano silver, gold, aluminum, latex, gravity, and stain free pants.
The supervillain Dr. Blot dressed in a crazy costume

I Got No Stains on Me

In this O Wow Moments video, Mr. O explores how nanotechnology is used to create clothes that are stain resistant.
Facilitator showing learners the lotus leaf effect

Lotus Leaf Effect

In this activity, learners explore how some leaves are self cleaning and repel water due to their nanoscale features.

Scientific Image - Water Droplet on a Nasturtium Leaf

Magnified image of a water droplet on a Nasturtium leaf using an Optical Microscope.

Scientific Image - Nasturtium Leaf

Magnified image of a nasturtium leaf using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Scientific Image - Nasturtium Leaf

Magnified image of Nasturtium Leaf using an Optical Camera.

Scientific Image - Nasturtium Leaf

Magnified image of a nasturtium leaf using a Scanning Electron Microscope.

Annual Events and Themes

National Bird Day (January 5)

  • www.nationalbirdday.com website
  • some bird feathers (such as peacock feathers) are iridescent due to nano-sized structures within the feathers

Great Backyard Bird Count (mid-February)

  • https://www.birdcount.org
  • some bird feathers (such as peacock feathers) are iridescent due to nano-sized structures within the feathers

World Wildlife Day (March 3)

National Learn about Butterflies Day (March 14)

    Working with STEM Experts Guide cover including an image of expert  puring a liquid and using a strainer with a girl and her family at a museum public event

    Finding STEM Experts