Question Sheet: Inspired by Nature


Before reading:

  1. Birds can fly. A water strider can walk on water. What ability that a plant or an animal has would you like to have yourself? Why? 
  2. Why would scientists look to nature to improve technology or invent things?

During reading:

  1. What is biomimicry? Give two examples. 
  2. Why are conch shells tough to break? 
  3. What uses could come out of the invention of “gecko tape”? 
  4. What problems exist with many dyes? How might biomimicry provide a way to help solve these problems? 
  5. What does Benyus mean when she says that “the ultimate goal [of biomimicry] is to mimic not just materials but entire processes in nature”?

After reading:

  1. Which possibility for nature-inspired invention mentioned in this article seems the most important to you? Why? 
  2. Pick a biomimicry project you would like to take on. What animal or plant would you study? Why? How would you go about figuring out how to copy the desired quality? 
  3. How would tiny bumps on the wings of a beetle help collect water? Draw a picture of how these bumps work. For additional information about the water-collecting beetle, see Geographic). 
  4. Take a walk outside. Pick three plants or animals that you see and come up with something that humans could learn from each of them. 
  5. In this article, many of the ideas that people want to copy from animals have to do with houses. Why do you think that is? What improvements would you like to see in your home? Could animals or plants suggest an answer to any of the problems that you see? Why or why not?


Where are the Galapagos Islands? To which country do they belong? How many people live on the islands? What’s environmentally special about this area? What famous scientist visited this part of the world in the 19th century? For information about the Galapagos Islands, see


  1. Imagine that you work for a marketing firm. Pitch one of the nature-inspired inventions mentioned in the article to a company. What would the commercial uses of this product be? How would you advertise the product? What kind of person would buy the product? Where would it be the most popular or useful? 
  2. The word “biomimicry” is only a few years old. Why do scientists or writers sometimes need to make up words?


A biology experiment starts with 1,000,000 cells, and 50 percent of the cells die each minute. How long would it take until just 1,000 cells are left?