Bio-Inspired Design – Week 6

This week, the adventures of the Bio-Inspired Design class continued with final project discussions, field work, and learning about flight!

The students in the course have now come together in three groups to begin work on their final projects: designing a product that is partly or wholly inspired by a concept found in nature, then building a prototype! Each group is planning something unique, and they’ve named themselves Team Kitchen Aid, Team Suction, and Team Kitten Mittens. We’re all looking forward to what they can accomplish!

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The class took a trip out to the Assabet River Wildlife Refuge with Professor Perlman to get an up close and personal look at some of the invertebrate and plant life found in the water! We saw some crazy examples of how to maneuver underwater, like the dragonfly nymph’s jet propulsion, the backswimmer’s backstroke, and the leech’s inchworm-style motion. Professor Perlman was a huge help in identifying the insects we found and showing us where to look, so here’s a shout-out and a thank you to him!

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The class also spent some time going over the physics of flight. We discussed pressure and how an object’s shape can alter the pressure it experiences – leading to a discussion on airfoils and lift! Making a long topic slightly shorter, the unique shape of an airfoil generates lift because the air is forced to move faster over its top than along the bottom. This makes the air below the airfoil have a greater pressure than the air above it, forcing the airfoil upwards! And obviously after learning about creating lift, the class needed to step outside to try out some wing designs for ourselves…and so began the great Bio-Inspired Design Paper Plane Challenge!

Stay tuned for next week as we visit the Franklin Park Zoo and the Boston Children’s Hospital SimPeds Program!

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