Did you know that jackrabbits have color-changing ears? Sounds fake, right? Well, I learned a lot of interesting facts like that when I visited Lily Urmann, the program coordinator at The Biomimicry Center at ASU.
Urmann told me that jackrabbits’ ears are hypothermal, meaning that they change color due to temperature. When one goes into its burrow, where it is cool, its veins get bigger, pumping more blood which changes the color of its ears. So what is bio-what’s-it-called?! “Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature,” Urmann says. “I’ve always been interested in how nature works.”
She created a middle-school curriculum called BioConnect, made with help from the Phoenix Zoo and the Biomimicry Institute. It is a curriculum designed to engage kids in nature, and inspire the next generation of innovators.
Urmann says the curriculum is online and available for teachers to use for free, and the kits featuring different interactive supplies are available for rent. She even said she won’t give students any homework! “We offer home exploration...It’s basically like keeping a nature journal.”
Some of the things in the kits include a bust of a jackrabbit head, with color-changing paint on the ears to demonstrate how its ears change color due to temperature.
The kits include 3D-printed items. One of the things in the kit is a model of a namib beetle. It gets its water from the air! You have to get the kit to find out how. At The Biomimicry Center you can see all sorts of cool things, like a sea sponge. I saw a big ostrich egg that weighed three pounds. Urmann also showed me a burdock seed pod under a microscope. It looked like a coronavirus with little needle-hairs. She says it's what inspired the inventor of velcro.