Life Science

Engineering in Biology

What are some good activities and lessons which incorporate engineering into biology/life science?

Kaitlyn Jones
Kaitlyn Jones
1400 Activity Points

In additon to the websites already mentioned, I can also recommend http://tryengineering.org/

There are several end products of engineering design that you can choose from:  theoretical plans; models; list of procedures; and, finally, prototypes or actual working designs.  I have also attached a library of engineering design process lessons. 

Here are a few possible design projects that come to mind loosely organized by engineering disciplines.

Civil Engineering:

·       migration corridors for different species.  Start with a case study on how engineers helped organisms safely migrate across major highways and other human-made barriers.   

·       irrigation systems to minimize erosion.

·       campgrounds in a park to have a zero-carbon footprint and be ecologically unobtrusive.

·       Waste handling systems

·       Reclaiming plastics from oceans

Electrical Engineering:

·       Use geographic data to place a hydroelectric dam in the most advantageous and least disruptive location for an ecosystem and watershed. 

Mechanical:

·       traps to safely capture organisms.

Biomedical:

·       Artificial limbs and organs for animals or humans.  This also allows you to incorporate 3D printers for prototyping. 

·       Use computer probes to collect data on heart rate, oxygen, and so on.

Aeronautic:

·       Systems to protect jets and airports from birds. 

·       Collect environmental data using drones or weather balloons.

Computer:

·       Use microprocessors like Arduinos or Raspberry Pi and program sensors to collect physical data on habitats, aquaria, terrariums, etc.

·       Create enclosed habitats or greenhouses that collect data and respond to changing conditions.

Hope this helps!


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Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
3268 Activity Points

Hi Kaitlyn -- Regardless of the grade level you teach, I would recommend looking at the Teach Engineering site from the University of Colorado for lessons and units of instruction that integrate engineering and science. You can search by grade level and topic. For example, I searched for biology and found 260 engineering lessons with a focus on biology! The lessons include handouts, background information, connects to the NGSS, handouts, etc. These resources are complete enough that even if you never studied engineering, you and your students can be involved in interesting problem-solving activities that incorporate real-world applications.

Mary B

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
9450 Activity Points

Hi Kaitlyn,

I'm not sure what grade level you teach, but I hope this article can be helpful! It discusses biomimicry in a middle school classroom, but if you needed you may be able to adjust for the level of your students.

https://common.nsta.org/resource/default.aspx?id=10.2505%2f4%2fss15_038_07_18

Do any other biology teachers have ideas to add?

-Megan

Megan Doty
Megan Doty
11102 Activity Points

Hi Kaitlyn - 

I have been using Biomimicry to integrate engineering into Life Science at the High School level  for the past 2 years.

It's really engaging for students and allows for great creativity and exploration.

 

Check out the Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge (middle school & high school challenge) from the Biomimicry Institufe.

There are some teaching lesson plans and videos to get you started.  Consider registering for this year's challenge.

Also the Ask Nature website is very helpful for student research and brainstorming about biomimicry.

 

There are engaging biomimicry connections to all science fields, biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space science, anatomy and physiology, etc.  Enjoy exploring!

Dorothy

Dorothy Ginnett
Dorothy Ginnett
28165 Activity Points

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