Designs Inspired by Nature

Engineers and scientist are looking to nature when they need new ideas on how to make something or do something. This is called biomimicry! Biomimicry is the method that seeks a sustainable solutions by utilizing nature’s time tested forms, functions, and strategies.  Take the Designs Inspried by Nature quiz to see if you can figure out what things were inspired by nature’s plants and animals!


Environmental Challenge: Take Good CARE of YOUR STUFF!

One of the best environmental tips  is to take good care of the things that you own. Bikes, clothing, electronics, sports equipment, and, games,- whatever you may have, all will last longer if you take good care of them. It will also keep your items looking their best, functioning properly, and might help to increase the resale value of the item.

Take care of things by:

  •  Storing properly  
  • Using in the intended manner
  • Cleaning the items
  • Keeping the object in the appropriate temperature and humidity
  •  Attending to routine maintenance
  • Organize and keep like items together (This will prevent you from losing pieces of a game or buying something you already have but could not find.) 

All of these tips  can save you money. They also save the water, electricity, transportation, packaging costs and the disposal impact.  Using less of all of these things emits less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that’s a great thing when it comes to global warming!

Taking good care of your stuff helps preserve polar bear habitat!

Things do wear out and when they can no longer be fixed, try to recycle as much of the materials as possible even if this means taking the item apart. Look for a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, or  better quality product when replacing the item. These products may be a bit more expensive but if they can last longer than the cheaper ones. You will definitely get your money back and then some!



Engineering a Ski Chair at Mt. Wachusett!

At Wachusett Ski Mountain we held an engineering competition. Skiers and boarders in grades K-7 participated! Contestants were asked to design a model of gondola (for a lift) from paper and see how much weigh it could hold. Contestants were then challenged to re-design their gondola in order to have it hold more weight. We used marbles to add weight to the chairs. The only requirement was that they could not use more than one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of construction paper. They were offered three different types of tape (clear, masking, and duck tape), Popsicle sticks, string, and aluminum foil.

First time builders:
First Place: Camryn: 144 marbles
Second Place: Tim and Jack: 137 marbles

When it came to engineering a better chair the second time:

First Place: Caleb was our master at holding the most weight: 812 marbles

Second Place: Nick was our innovator, being the first to venture on his own: (308 marbles).

 Honorable Mention to: Brendon, Nico, Logan, Genevieve, JP, Owen, Andrew, Brady, Nora, and KiKi! Great job everyone!!!! For those of you, who took stuff home….we anxiously, await your results!

Engineer Your Own Tower Building Competition

First watch our Science Bug Investigators’ Tower Building Competition!

Next choose the materials that you would like use to make your tower.  If you are doing this with friends and making this into a competition to see who can build the tallest tower, everyone has to have the same exact materials.  You can even compete against your self if you have a duplicate set of materials. Your goal would to be to try to build a taller tower than you did the first time.

Next decide if the amount of tape be limited or unlimited. If you limit the tape, you would give everyone only a certain amount, like 2 feet. If unlimited, give them the entire roll!

Third, decide if you are going to set a time limit. If you set a time limit you will need a timer. How much time will you give everyone? 5 minutes? 30 minutes?

Then it is up to your and your friends to be civil engineers and see who can build the tallest tower!  Good luck.  And please share your results with us on this blog.  Tell us what materials you used and your tower heights.

Civil engineers also build among other things, dams and bridges.   Can you make a bridge from paper strong enough to hold a golf ball?  Make a waterproof dam out of clay? Or what can you think of for your next competition?

How do we know about water flow in a river?

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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Geological Survey got together to study water movement in the Blackstone River.  Watch this video to learn how the team of scientists and engineers collect data on water movement. It’s a more colorful story than you might think!  Special permission was granted to do this study so please do not attempt this on a stream or river near you.    


Dolphins of Tampa Bay

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Ever wonder what it would be like to see dolphins in their natural environment? Well, if you head to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida you can sign-up to go on a tour of Tampa Bay and perhaps see the dolphins for yourself.  On 95% of the bay tours dolphins are spotted.  That is because approximately 500 bottle nose dolphins make Tampa Bay their home.  The average water depth of Tampa Bayis about 12 feet which is a just a little deeper than a backyard in-ground pool. Yet these dolphins are able to survive and thrive in these waters despite that Tampa Bay is also home to one of the busiest seaports in the southern United States.

Scientist Spotlight: Dr. Jesse Liberman M.D.


Dr. Jesse Lieberman had to overcome his physically challenge to complete medical school and become a doctor.  Learn more about Dr. Jesse by viewing our interview with him at HERE.  He is an inspiration!




Winter the Dolphin and Her Friends at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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I was lucky to get a chance to meet Winter, the star of Dolphin Tale, her friends, and Cammie, the Senior Marine Mammal Trainer at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium who takes care of them.  Winter uses a prosthetic tail to move since hers was damaged and fell off after being tangled in a rope of a crab trap. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium helped Winter to heal and the engineers at Hanger Prosthetics continue to make her new prosthetic tails as she grows.

Not only is Winter’s story a remarkable story of perseverance, so is the story of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  It took the aquarium founders 11 years to find the current site, remodel it (since it use to a wastewater treatment facility), and then be able to welcome animals and guests!  If you get a chance, I highly recommend a visit.

Behind the Scenes with the Penguins

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I have always loved penguins, but the more I learned about them, the more I realized how interesting they are from how they can act like a dog when petted, be identified, and what we can all do in our daily lives to help save theirs!

Did you know that most penguins, including these live in warm climates?

Watch the video and learn from the Jason, the biologist who cares for them, what adaptations help them do so!

Measuring the Age of Trees

Even though you are back in school, it is still a great time of year to get outside and discover things about your environment!  Here is a fun and simple thing to do- Measure the Age of  Trees in your backyard. Just follow the link for all the instructions! The trees in my backyard were a lot older than I realized!