Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature
By: Jennifer Swanson
Published: June 23, 2020
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Beastly bionics might make you think big mean robots, but instead, bionics is a combination of biology and electronics. Using nature to help you build a robot by studying how animals navigate the terrain you are looking to cross can be extremely helpful. In fact, in 2014, engineers created a robot that hopped like a kangaroo.
Swanson kicks off the robotic inventions with a life-saving spider. Spiders printed on a 3D printer and fitted with cameras can fit into small spaces and get just about anywhere. But, these spiders are not an easy build with eight legs to make sure they can rotate, flex, and extend. This took lots of computer coding and trial and error. These robotic spiders will be extremely useful after earthquakes, tornados, and other natural disasters where it is necessary to get into small, crammed spaces to search for survivors.
Law enforcement and military individuals have learned a lot from turtle shells. The body armor designed to protect them is engineered based on the turtle’s shell including the fabric that mimics the turtle’s spine and rib cage. It’s amazing that scientists and engineers can learn how a turtle’s shell protects it and turn that into a product that can help protect people in much the same way.
From creating an assistant to work like an elephant trunk to grippers that constrict like a boa constrictor to dolphin-like sensors that record earthquakes and signal frequencies just like dolphins do, engineers have created useful tools to help with life-saving measures and to help with tasks. Some of the other animals and insects that inspired bionics were bees, fireflies, whales, sharks, slugs, geckos, cicadas, jellyfish, and many more!
Of course, every page is full of amazing photography of both the animal and the useful bionic that was created. There are also fact bubbles on the pages to keep readers always learning and wanting to know more. I was awestruck by some of these inventions and how they have helped heal, protect, and do other amazing things. None of this engineering happens in one day and it takes many do-overs, tests, and tweaking to make sure their robot is the best it can be. All of these inventions came from watching and observing animals or insects and how they move their bodies, communicate, or live in their environment. Pretty amazing stuff and it may just inspire your child to join their school’s robotics team or to create their own invention.
Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in the fascinating 45+ award-winning nonfiction and fiction books she has written for children.
To purchase a copy of BEASTLY BIONICS, click the photo below:
All summer I’ll be sharing books for kids of all ages on topics that will interest them or offer them a new interest to learn about. Most of the time these will be nonfiction books, but sometimes we can learn how to be better people or learn empathy from fictional stories too.
So, I hope you will stay tuned to these posts. They will always have Summer Read-to-Learn in the title and in the tags. There will be books from some of my favorite publishers like National Geographic, plus, some from independent publishers. See them all, HERE.