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NATURE DID IT FIRST by Karen Rohrich Ansberry


Engineering Through Biomimicry

by Karen Rohrich Ansberry ; illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

Pub Date: March 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-58469-658-2
Publisher: Dawn Publications

An introduction to biomimicry and engineering for young readers learning to see connections.

The format of the book follows a predictable pattern. One double-page spread with a rhyming poem describes something in nature (“The kingfisher sits upon a perch / And spies a silvery flash. / He swiftly dives to catch a fish / But barely makes a splash”) and is followed by a second spread that examines the animal or plant in more depth, with an explanation about how engineers adapted what they observed to solve a problem: Changing the noses of Japanese bullet trains to match kingfishers’ streamlined beaks meant they wouldn’t boom loudly when exiting tunnels. After a walk with his dog, George de Mestral wondered how burrs stuck to fur. He saw their tiny, curved hooks under a microscope, and Velcro was born. Bats’ echolocation led to the design of a cane with a vibrating handle to help blind people navigate. Other natural inspirations include geckos’ sticky feet, whales’ bumpy flippers, pitcher plants’ slippery sides, and pill bugs’ rolling up. DiRubbio’s watercolors match the text. The first spread shows the animal or plant in its environment. The second uses vignettes to enhance the text’s explanation as well as engineering drawings emphasizing the appropriate aspect. Backmatter includes a short glossary and a design challenge meant for teachers to use with students.

Inspiring for all those kids who look at the world in wonder and ask, what if? (Informational picture book. 5-11)