Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MIT: BioSuit

For those of you who have participated in a training with me know I am crazy about biomimicry. A common activity I have done with 3rd graders up to aerospace engineers is introduce biomimicry with a spacesuit challenge--"design a next generation Mars spacesuit that is inspired by plant adaptations." Participants in these workshop have created all kinds of cool concepts from gloves that have retractable barb hooks for climbing mountains to photo-tropic solar polar cells to harvest energy. SO COOL!

Well if you are looking for the real deal next-generation spacesuit, I suggest checking out Dava Newman's research out of MIT. She developed a spacesuit model called the Biosuit. It is an innovative design that provides lots of mobility and comfort for future astronauts. Another cool aspect of this suit is the pressure system is inspired by biomimicry principles. Specifically, the pressure creating cords are inspired by giraffe ligaments that limit blood flow to a giraffe's head as they swing their head up and down 26 feet. Teachers in biology, earth and space science, or engineering/technology can use this story as a hook or vignette to introduce a related theme such as Mars exploration or animal adaptations.