First graders at Dows Lane Elementary School who have been learning how plants and animals use their defenses to survive in nature, recently applied this knowledge to solve a real-life problem presented to them by teacher Ann Marie Reardon: The aquarium animals’ food, bagged and stored outside, is being eaten by wildlife. She challenged the children to find a way to protect the food supply.
“The students spent time viewing images to learn about biomimicry…[where] scientists use what they know about the natural world to inspire solutions to solve human problems,” Reardon said.
Students had to pick one type of defense – shells, spikes or camouflage –to guard the food supply. They drew and labeled their plan in their science notebooks, then built structures using a variety of recycled materials including plastic bottles, toothpicks, pencil-top erasers and colored tissue paper. Once they’d completed the structures, they tested them to see if they would repel predators.
“[The students] were able to apply their understanding of how defenses work in nature to solve a problem,” said Reardon.