source of inspiration for bionics. Bionics can be included in many
other biology curriculum topics. Promoting those innovative topics
in the classroom would increase the motivation for science and technology (Neurohr & Dragomirescu, 2007). Innovative topics need
innovative school learning environments, like working cooperatively, to enrich students’ perceptions.
Johnson and Johnson (1994) explained cooperative learning as
forming groups of students who discuss their work. A meta-analysis
of 65 studies reported considerably better cognitive achievement
and higher attitude scores in cooperative learning (Kyndt et al.,
2013), hence our bionics intervention focused on cooperative learning in combination with hands-on learning.
We anticipate that participating students will learn to understand
the procedural method of bionics, to identify bionics in general,
and to know some specific examples of bionics. Bionics principles
are generally represented using the Lusinus method: research of
nature is based on abstraction of a biology principle, which is
implemented in technical applications (Nachtigall, 2010). The principles and mechanisms of bionics require understanding the scientific background and the principle of transferability to daily lives.
Details of Intervention and Exercise
The intervention required five school lessons, which are divided into
different time slots and phases. The introduction phase takes barely
one school lesson and each module at least two school lessons (see
Table 1). To assure similar pre-knowledge, a pre-group introductory
phase was provided focusing on the basics of bionics, biology, and
technology (Supplemental Material Appendix A, workbook p.4).
Both the seminar room and the aquarium modules were applied
as hands-on stations employing cooperative learning. Teachers simply supervised from the background and only responded to student
questions on request. The group-work phase was self-explanatory
but guided by a work book, which the students received at the module’s start. Both module parts were completed in a zoological garden
(Figure 1). A list with all necessary materials for the intervention is
attached (Supplemental Material Appendix J), as well as the workbook, where the students have to fill in the work orders (
Supplemental Material Appendix K).
Different bionics examples incorporated the stream-lined
shape, fin-ray effect, and skin adaptions, including the shark skin
effect (Figure 2A,B).
Station Bionics Examples
An instruction sheet with a short introductory text about biology
models and bionics applications described self-sharpening knives/
rodents, gecko-foot/glue, lotus-effect/glasses, bird-wings/winglets,
honeycomb/washing machines, bones/Eiffel tower, as well as velcro
fruits/hook-and-loop fastener (Supplemental Material Appendix B,
workbook p.5); 14 pictures with short captions are given, the
bionics application on the right, the biology model on the left.
Underneath an example is shown, the rest is attached in the Supplemental Material Appendix section.
Station Streamline Shape
Different shapes such as a bowl, a cuboid, a cube, or the streamline
shape formed of wax (Figure 3) were to be arranged according to
streamline adaptations (workbook p.6). For this experiment, a glass
cylinder of water with several marking points was supplied, and above
the cylinder, different objects were fixed consecutively (Figure 4A,B).
The other side of the string was held by tension, so that the starting
point of the object is in the right position (Figure 4C). Objects were
then dropped into the water (Figure 4D), and a second student
marked the depth each object reached (Figure 4E,F). Each experiment
was repeated three times to register the deepest immersion and hence
the lowest resistance (Figure 4F).
Station Fin-Ray Effect
A short information sheet about the phenomena in general and a
model of the fin-ray effect was presented (Figure 5, Supplemental
Material Appendix C, workbook p.11).
Table 1. Module phases and description.
Phase of Teaching Description Students Activity Time (min.)
Pre-group phase Introduction to bionics Teacher-guided learning 25
(seminar room module)
Seminar room activity in a
Hands-on learning at stations 85
concentrating on the living
Hands-on learning at stations 85
Figure 1. Different stations of the group work seminar room
module and the aquarium module. Seminar room module is
also possible in a normal classroom.