Study Visit NL - Oosterblokker (13-17 March, 2023)

From the 13th until the 17th of March 2023, 30 teachers and biomimicry professionals from different countries came together in The Netherlands as part of the BioLearning for the Future (BLF) project. The goal was to learn about biomimicry and education, and to give teachers the tools to apply biomimicry within their own curriculum. The programme consisted of a combination of inspiring lectures, workshops and excursions. 

Overview of the program

Day 1: Welcome

After welcoming all the participants, they were divided into groups to try out a selection of biomimicry exemplars prepared by each partner country. Teachers got familiar with these easy and short biomimicry exercises and evaluated how they could be used in their own lessons. In the evening, Kaitlin Chuzi (Director Biomimicry at Microsoft) gave an online presentation where she explained how she got into biomimicry, how Microsoft integrates biomimicry and why this is important and relevant. 

Day 2: Biomimicry day at National Park Kennemerduinen

PWN Kennemerduinen hosted the second day of the study visit. Here, participants visited a biomimicry exhibition (‘Spechten op de fiets’), were given a guided biomimicry excursion by foresters, and completed biomimicry challenges whilst walking through the park. In the afternoon, participants were shown how natural dune formation protects us from sea level rise through a guided dune excursion. During the day participants learned a lot about the background of biomimicry, and were given many examples of how this topic might be introduced to pupils.

Day 3: Biomimicry educators in Amsterdam

At the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam, participants took part in a biomimicry workshop that is normally done with upper primary school classes. A guided tour through the garden showed how different plants have already led to bio-inspired innovations. The teachers also took part in a workshop where they had to think of a biomimicry innovation themselves by studying the features of a specific plant. At the end of the workshop, participants presented their ideas to the group. This hands-on experience with biomimicry gave many of the teachers inspiration for their own teaching.

The afternoon consisted of a workshop at NEMO Studios hosted by Biobased Creations. Participants worked with their Nature Building Kit, and were asked to build their ‘ideal house’ with modular panels made of biobased materials. After presenting the built houses, members of Biobased Creations explained what the importance of biobased building is and why cooperation between different sectors (builders, material producers, designers, etc.) is necessary to create 'circular' constructions. 

The evening program included a dinner at non-profit restaurant ‘TasteBeforeYouWaste’, where volunteers cook vegan dinners with waste streams from local markets. An amazing initiative that aims to close the loop on food waste.

Day 4: Biomimicry education in practice

During the final day, all participants visited a local school (Sint Antoniusschool in Nieuwe Niedorp) where Saskia van den Muijsenberg from biomimicryNL hosted a ‘Biomimicry Day’, one of the BLF components. First, countries had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the children and tell a bit about their culture. After this, children had to pick something from their natural environment that interested them. Items included shells, leaves, flowers and branches. Pupils studied these items and had to think about how they could be used as an inspiration for our own designs. They made drawings of their biomimicry solutions and presented them to the group. Some ideas included anti-slip bowls inspired by walnut husks, water collecting shelters inspired by seashells and mattresses inspired by moss. The morning ended with a tour through the school to show teachers what a Dutch school typically looks like. 

After arriving back at the accommodation, Vitaal architect Gabriela Dalhoeven gave an inspiring lecture about the importance of biomimicry for sustainable design, and how it can be used in the built environment. 

The final part of the program was a reflection activity led by Richard Dawson and Sam Stier from Wild Awake, where teachers of each country evaluated what they learned during this week, and how they could implement these learnings into their classes. 

It was great to learn from all the different cultures, educational experiences and biomimicry experts during this study visit. We want to thank all the participants for their contributions, hard work and valuable input to the BLF project, as well as all the others that made this inspiring week happen.

For more information or questions about the project, please explore the rest of this website and/or get in touch with us.