I quickly realized I had nothing to fear. After a brief lecture and introduction to biomimicry, we were given an “i-site” exercise. We were asked to find an organism and just observe it for a while. Think about it. Wonder. Then sketch, take notes, question, and let our thinking take the lead. We were asked to closely observe something in nature and ask ourselves what stood out for us. We were challenged to consider if we could learn from something we may have looked at before, perhaps many times, if we just took the time to look at it and think about it differently.
Of course I related to the assignment immediately! It’s what we ask students to do as they study mentor texts - look at the text differently, through a writer’s eyes rather than just a reader’s eyes. Today I was observing nature through a designer’s eyes. I made connections, too, to close reading. In their book Falling in Love with Close Reading, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts talk about helping students understand what close reading is by applying it to our world in general.
After the exercise we collaborated in small groups to continue the questioning and share our thinking. We thought about the functions of organisms and how that can be applied to discovering or inventing solutions to design problems. So there it was – observing, discussing, making theories, questioning – all the processes I am comfortable with applied to the scientific community. I can’t help but think that as we teach our students to engage in close reading, to question and make theories, that we are helping them learn skills that will last throughout their lives.