Findhorn Biomimicry for Educators Workshop (Kamelia Miteva, Thomas Rossi)

© ktsdesign - Fotolia.comTime passed quickly during the intensive Biomimicry Education Training Workshop developed by Biomimicry 3.8 and led Megan Schuknecht and Sam Stier.  Sixteen attendees from many geographical and professional horizons had the opportunity to share our deep passion for biomimicry and teaching through a wide range of hands-on activities.  The program was “designed for high school, college or university, and informal science teachers or lecturers who are interested in learning the fundamentals of biomimicry and integrating biomimicry teaching into new or existing courses, programs, displays, or exhibits.” 

The workshop was held on August 25-31/2012 at Findhorn College in northeast Scotland near Forres on the Moray Firth coast. The College is supported by the Findhorn Foundation and is part of the Findhorn Ecovillage.  The College strives to deliver holistic education relating to natural design thinking and sustainability.

Our very first activity, after introducing ourselves to the group, was to rebuild our connection with Nature, by exploring it, not with our eyes, but with all the other senses (hearing, touch, smell and taste).  The following days provided an in-depth exploration of biomimicry using three kinds of activities:

  • Indoor courses where we learned about design tools such as 'Biology to Design' to help biologists to think in a more systemic way and 'Challenge to Biology' to help designers to biologize the functions they want their design to accomplish.  We were continually encouraged to ensure that our designs followed the Life Principles and 'Five to Thrive'.  'Five to Thrive' are key concepts to keep in mind such as ' extract material without mining', 'engineer for upcycling' and 'power without pollution', and act as a complement to the Life's Principles.
  • Individual and group case studies involving a set of exercises designed to help us apply the tools above. To name a few, we had to optimize or create products using solutions found in Nature or thinking about industrial implementations of a strategy found in Nature.
  • Outdoor activities where we had an opportunity to study Nature directly, analyzing ecosystems, finding functions and strategies adopted by local organisms.

iSite workshopBiomimics working hard

Last, but not least, we had to identify a personal and practical challenge we want to accomplish using our new knowledge.  Each of us had to integrate what we learned each day in the workshop and apply the knowledge to our everyday lives and jobs.  This gave each of us the opportunity to exchange ideas with other members of the group on a broad range of topics, expanding our understanding and often leading to significant shifts in our thinking.

Kamelias Perspective:

The Community CenterThis was an incredible experience which supports my own personal and professional development and provides a firm basis onto which I will build. I am especially thankful to the Findhorn Foundation and College for providing warm and generous support to each of us, making us feel at home and providing the best place to learn from nature and to work with nature's genius.

I spent seven days with people from different backgrounds and countries, working at different levels of education (informal through university).  Nevertheless, I felt I was surrounded by friends from the moment I set foot in Findhorn, for which I am very grateful!  Even after the course, we continue to share our successes and failures and stay in touch ... and we actually very much miss each other, our biomimicry family!

 

Kamelia Miteva is a creativity consultant working with alternative education organizations.
She trained as a biologist, is passionate about biomimicry and teaches biology to children.

 

 

ThomasPerspective:

Even though I am not teaching biomimicry or creating exhibits, the workshop was good opportunity to make a step further into this fascinating discipline, to meet new people and share lots of ideas and experiences.

I have not only learned about biomimicry but also a lot about teaching, design thinking and ‘slow space’, a way to work by taking the time to think and explore solutions, rather than going full-throttle with short deadlines.

Many thanks to the Findhorn Foundation, our teachers and all the biomimic-fellows for this great and deep human experience.  

 

Thomas ROSSI is a computer engineer trained as a Software Designer for Mechanical Simulation, with a passion for nature, systems and biomimicry

 

 

Image Credits:

  • Networked world: © ktsdesign - Fotolia.com
  • iSite workshop: Thomas Rossi
  • Biomimics working hard: Thomas Rossi
  • The Community Center: Thomas Rossi
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