From foxes to boa constrictors, nature offers inspiration


Steele students explore the realm of biomimicry

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.


Amherst teacher Rob Glatz talks about the emerging field of biomimicry and how scientists are looking to nature for solutions to engineering problems.


How has nature solved problems?

That’s the question asked Monday by Amherst Steele High School science students, who found some answers in a visit from the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde.

The traveling animal exhibit featured an armadillo, frog, fennec fox, turtle, and snakes and focused on the emerging field of biomimicry.

The field looks at life for ways to solve everyday challenges.

For example, teacher Rob Glatz said when Japanese engineers were designing high-speed bullet trains, they encountered a big issue — trains zipping into tunnels would hit and break the sound barrier, creating a sonic boom.

So what did scientists do? They studied kingfishers.

They watched how the birds enter the water without splashing and found the secret to success was in the curvature of the beak. So engineers built the same curve into the nose of bullet trains and found their problem was solved.

Cleveland zoologists used a much more common object as an example, asking teens what animals inspire modern bicycle helmet design.

The first thought that leaped to mind is the elegant shell of a turtle. But armadillos and even hedgehogs have inspired the shapes of helmets.

Asked to look at the Sahara Desert-dwelling fennec fox and brainstorm applications for its features, students immediately noticed its oversized ears, tiny size, and tufted feet.

They suggested looking to the fox for nature’s solutions in the realms of sound amplification and heat resistance.

Glatz said biomimicry is a growing field with much research happening in Montana and right here in the Greater Cleveland area.

The University of Akron recently became the first to offer a doctorate in the field. It’s teaming with the Nordson Corporation to further explore the field, Glatz said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/12/web1_DSC_5966.jpg

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/12/web1_DSC_5952.jpg

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Zoologists show off exotic animals Monday as part of the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo’s Professor Wylde’s Traveling School Show.

Amherst teacher Rob Glatz talks about the emerging field of biomimicry and how scientists are looking to nature for solutions to engineering problems.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/12/web1_DSC_5909.jpgAmherst teacher Rob Glatz talks about the emerging field of biomimicry and how scientists are looking to nature for solutions to engineering problems.
Steele students explore the realm of biomimicry

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com

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