Design and creativity are rarely associated with science. Interdisciplinary bionics works on exactly this principle: connecting the unusual. With two digital tools, bionics can also be conveyed in an exciting and creative way for young people in a media-pedagogical form.
The skin is a fascinating organ. 50 so-called Merkel receptors are activated per square millimeter. They transmit compressive forces, quasi mini-vibrations. Every little touch creates a vibration in our body. Haptic experiences are therefore particularly impressive and exciting in the context of media education. The principle of bionics creates one way to experience this creatively: analogically through touch and digitally using media-pedagogical tools such as the construction program “TinkerCAD” or “Autodraw”.
What exactly is bionics?
These are natural phenomena that are transferred to the human world in new, creative ways. Mechanisms from nature are observed and then applied to technology in a new context. This method is called “biological pressure” in bionics. The leading bionics researcher at the moment is Werner Nachtigall. For him, bionics is not an imitation of nature, but a creative adaptation: “Nature gives suggestions that the engineer does not copy, but incorporates into a constructive design – the lege artis of his science.”
One of these engineers was the Swiss Georges de Mastrel. He stumbled upon thistle while walking his dogs. The flowers fell on the dogs’ fur. Taking a closer look under the microscope, Mastrel discovered that the plant has small hooks that ensure attachment. He increased the grip power of his invention by connecting not one but two surfaces with hooks: Velcro was born. In 1951, Mastrel registered his patent for textile structures. Many animals and plants became the inspiration for technical inventions in this and similar ways.
Implementation of bionic projects in schools and leisure facilities
Tactile and sensory aspects of model construction as well as creative and open methods are therefore ideal for adapting them to the living environment of young people: whether in the field of music, play or fashion – everything can be designed bionically and creatively. Dealing with one’s own identity is especially important in the youth phase, so it is recommended that the bionic topic be individually adapted to young people in the form of project work and that young people deal with it. Since the individual steps of such a project require independent work and understanding of complex relationships, it is recommended to use the project for youth aged 14 and older. Building with analog models offers the ability to connect digital tools and social media platforms to the analog world. The advantage of bionics is that it works in an interdisciplinary way and therefore offers important food for thought for future teaching methods.
You can download here media educational material for the implementation of the bionics project:
Digital design tools: Autodraw and TinkerCAD
“Auto Draw” is a browser-based drawing program that works without login or registration. As soon as the URL is opened in the browser, the program interface becomes available. On the one hand, it offers the creation of simple sketches, and on the other, collages with various objects in the form of symbols or objects. This allows easy and anonymous creation of creative designs.
TinkerCAD is a construction program specially developed for children and young people. It is used for drawing and painting and is a pedagogical online program, free and browser-based.
An e-mail address is required during registration. This can also be anonymous. To create designs at home, the program offers the “Make at home” function.
Not only are geometric shapes and lines rendered in an abstract form as a template, but everyday objects such as cardboard, metal cans, pencils, toilet paper rolls and ear buds can be incorporated into the design. The design can first be visualized in the construction program and then analogically built at home using original materials. For example, a virtually built model can then be transformed into a virtual LEGO display and built at home with real LEGO bricks.
The two presented tools can be easily and creatively implemented as a basis for creative activities with young people. The theme of bionics is particularly appropriate here, as it combines creativity, haptics and science. But other topics can also be well implemented using the tool. It is recommended that young people themselves choose which topic they want to realize. Pedagogical material can serve as a starting point, but changes are possible and useful.