The Youth Design Challenge is a hands-on, project-based learning experience that provides classroom and informal educators with an engaging framework to introduce bio-inspired design and an interdisciplinary lens on science, engineering, and environmental literacy. It gives middle and high school students a unique STEM experience and empowers them to envision solutions to social and environmental challenges. During the program, students learn and experience:
- A process that weaves nature’s ingenious solutions into problem solving.
- Fun outdoor excursions to observe nature and identify the functions and relationships behind biological attributes.
- How forms, processes, and systems in nature can inspire innovative sustainable design.
- Confidence in making, inventing, creating, and offering solutions to complex problems.
- How science and design impact society and the natural world.
Meet the 2022 Youth Design Challenge Winners
From urban flooding and stormwater management to increasing access to clean drinking water in drought-prone areas, the Biomimicry Institute’s 2021-22 YDC winners have offered unique, nature-inspired ideas to solve local design challenges.
Read the award recipient announcement here.
Middle School Category
First Place: The Fire Forewarner
In recent years, the problem of wildfires in California has increased as residents have witnessed thousands of wildfires and millions of acres burned. The Fire Forewarner, developed by Aryan & Kovid’s Team, is a device that aims to help bring those numbers down. The design concept is a solar-powered box that contains a protected circuit board and flame retardant capsule with a high temperature glue on the lid.
Second Place: Ice Resistant Surfaces
In Montana and similar winter-stricken cold environments, planes need to be de-iced. Chemicals used in deicing are hazardous to the environment and eventually flow into rivers, lakes, and groundwater. These chemicals harm the ecosystems and contaminate the water supply. The BioSurfaces team aimed to reduce the need for harmful chemicals used and came up with the idea of Ice Resistant Surfaces.
International Honorable Mention: The Floodulator
The Floodulator is a system that includes a locally designed pipe on the ground level to store the rainwater underground in a boxfish-shaped tank (for water control and rigidity) that can distribute water to other areas of the city. More specifically, it can help distribute excess water in areas of flooding where the drainage system has been overwhelmed to London’s greener areas.
Third Place: CactiShirt
Interrobang from San Jose came up with CactiShirt: a design to passively cool a person down with a shirt that incorporates microscopic folds, just like desert cacti, to increase the surface area to allow more heat to radiate. The CactiShirt is designed to also be lighter in color so that it won’t absorb as much heat as darker colors, just as chameleons can change to a lighter color when they get hot.
High School Category
First Place: Urban Floodwater Reduction System
The Urban Floodwater Reduction System slows down water by splitting up the flow and creating tortuous paths; creates blockages to flood-designated areas upstream; and negates the amount of energy the water carries as it flows downstream towards the house most affected by the creek’s flooding.
Second Place: Syntrichia HydroTrap
The Syntrichia Hydrotrap is portable, attaches to any reusable water bottle, and uses a unique structure to capture moisture in the air. By mimicking the awns of desert moss (Syntrichia caninervis), the design concept uses water pumps to collect water droplets through barbs and grooves.
International Honorable Mention: Greenification
The Green Waves team from Anseong, Korea came up with an environmentally-friendly concept to solve this desertification problem. They created a land trampling structure to mimic the movement of herds in a grassland. Herd movement through the grasslands can be a healthy alternative to burning fields, because as the herd passes by, they redistribute nutrients across the field and break down the soil. The team’s solution also accounts for the balance needed here as overgrazing can also result in more desertification.
Third Place: River Reef
The River Reef is a cluster of banana leaf-like structures with a rough surface made of RPET, a bio-friendly plastic, that can be adjusted and placed at the bottom of any waterway. The design uses strategies inspired by seagrass and rough cactus coral to help slow down currents and trap sediments carried by the water.
Similarly, educators have an interdisciplinary platform to connect subjects to one another, and to the real world beyond classroom walls, along with an engaging framework for addressing climate science and ecoliteracy within STEM education.
We will use the information to be in touch with you via email. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any message you receive from us. Learn more about our privacy practices here.
Support the Next Generation
of Nature-Inspired Innovators
Imagine a world where everything we make is inspired by the natural world. By supporting the Biomimicry Institute you:
- Help bring biomimicry education to more students and educators
- Accelerate the growth of more nature-inspired startups and entrepreneurs
- Increase the number of biological strategies and resources on AskNature.org and across our entire organization.