Category: Documentary

Who doesn’t love going to a FAB conference!?

Last week was Spring break and we had this great opportunity of going and presenting in digiFAB conference in Boston about Biomimicry through one of my Sponsors TIES! Lots happened and I was excited to meet some great people in the field and had butterflies about my own talk. My excitement was doubled and butterflies gone with keynote speaker, Sherry Lassiter director of Fab Foundation, You can see her in picture below talking about different movements within Fab Foundation as well as the Fab network. IMG_8663

Dale Dougherty, then talked about Maker movements, I have been following Dale’s maker group (he runs the Make: which you can subscribe to) and was thrilled when he talked about  “Autonomous Boat [that] Went from California to Hawaii and Beyond”. I read about this project when first published in Make: and was happy that the boat had been picked up by a ship in New Zealand and was in display there.

The 2 day conference was packed by amazing talks, I like to shortly go through few of them.

FAB City A 40 year goal from Barcelona to empower citizens to be creators of their own city; “locally self-sufficient and globally connected”. For me, it seemed as a society that doesn’t need a centralized governing body, but where citizens create materials based on their needs, recycle when possible and are connected to many more cities around the globe.

FAB Cities

Tomas Diaz from FABCity also talked about the model and plans they have to reach this goal in Barcelona. he talked about POBLENOU where its supported by local and international community to become a FAB city.


Rachel Ignotofsky; Women in Science , and the importance of design and arts in our life, how arts influences our perceptions and why is it important to use it in our learning kits.

3D printes, bluedragon made with business in mind, where you can print 4 colors in one product, you can mix different colors into one or just use one at a time: FIREPRINT. If anyone wants to put money together to get one, I am in! Check out their case studies, from combating Zika to cosplay, you can do all!

Second day  was nothing short of amazing talks as well, we first heard from Neil Gershenfeld, Director, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, of his work on developing tools/processes for FABLAB, I did not see it coming where he talked about Nature! In below picture he was explaining how creating modules is similar to protein formation in our body. Neil

He also talked about how we are moving to Ubiquitous and with these changes, how his lab is working on developing the tools, materials, to functional part.


And one of my favorites; Global Humanitarian Lab, talk by David Ott, Co-founder, Where they aim to bring FABKits (costing around < $10k) to refugee camps. David talked about what would be in the FABKits and how everything needs to be packed into container that could be transferred by 1 or 2 person. He talked about limitations, needs and potentials of these labs. He talked about makers/ people who need the opportunities we easily can access in our cities.


There was many more talks which I highly recommend attending. This year, there was an addition of having workshops and we had ours on Biomimicry in Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville. Another place to put in your places to go!

So What did we talk about! We talked on first day about Spiders and Ornilux, Tardigrades, Spikemoss and Stabilitech/Biomateria and How they relate to maker group! As we grow in FAB network and as we move toward FAB cities, Can we benefit from nature’s stories? Can we learn from 3.8 billion years of lessons? Our hope is to learn and make more sustainable decisions. Either in creating new FAB equipments, or materials used. We see a movement that will grow potentially in years to come and we want to instill biomimicry thinking in its foundation!

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Biomimicry: What About the Why?

In her article, “Towards a Deeper Philosophy of Biomimicry,” Freya Mathews argues that biomimicry is philosophically under-developed. The current objective of biomimicry is to reorganize what and how we make things, instead of why we make things. Focusing on the what and how presumes a shift in why (i.e. a shift in the maker’s mindset) will follow. It presumes that the act of emulating natural forms and processes delivers increased consciousness of the principles of natural systems, and eventually, behavioral alignment with those principles. But it is dangerous to presume a shift in why. Given the current state of our environment we assume far too great a risk by delaying attention to the why. To accelerate a mindset shift, we must address the following questions: Why do we make things? What optimal future state are we pursuing through biomimetic innovation? Answers to these questions will help us develop a more robust biomimicry philosophy.

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Project Wild Thing

Hi germiNature readers,

Nature is the key component for Biomimicry, but have you struggled convincing yourself, your children or your friends to go out in nature more often? Do you feel like people think you are a hippie because you love nature so much?


Project Wild Thing (click to see trailer) is the documentary for you. In the film, David Bond, Marketing Director for Nature, takes on the task of convincing people to get outside. As a worried dad seeing his children becoming addicted to TV and games, rather than playing outside, he tries to promote nature again. The film explores the increasing disconnection between British children and the natural world around them.

Although many children think nature is boring and unattractive, the film shows that this idea can easily be changed. However, one of the main challenges of getting this change to happen falls in the hands of the parents themselves. They worry about letting their children outside; kids are being overloaded by homework; and parents are becoming lazy themselves – they’d rather let their kids watch TV than go play in a forest with them.

This realization should be interesting for parents in general and a biomimicist, in particular. I’m going to float three here…

– With the support of branding and marketing, nature could once again be a popular ‘free product’ for kids. Less waste, less money, more playful area.

– Letting your kids be active at a young age should support an active lifestyle as an adult. It’s easily accepted that you are healthier, happier and more productive when you are active. Additionally, playing in nature provides many different sensory experiences that promote brain development, which are just not replicable with virtual play.

– A big and frankly terrifying question is what might happen if a generation becomes completely disconnected from the natural world… This goes back to the “Ethos” of Biomimicry. You care for things you love. But you can only treasure nature if you have had great interactions with it.

Message? Stop staring at your computer screen and act. You can start by looking at his website: (oh no, wait, that’s requires you to sit at your computer…but still go have a look when you have time).

A popular science YouTube channel worth subscribing to

I have stumbled upon several interesting videos on a YouTube channel call SmarterEveryDay every so often in the past, but hadn’t browsed the channel thoroughly until very recently. What got my attention this time is a video that I called “a different kind of swarm”, which documents an interesting and unique behavior of a group of caterpillars. This kind of caterpillar swarm behavior is much different from the swarm examples that we’re typically familiar with, such as a school of fish, a flock of birds or an ant colony. The video below not only documents the bizarre mode of locomotion from the caterpillars, but also provids a potential explanation for the evolution of this strategy and identifies the bio-inspired design principles abstracted from it.

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Maker Movement: A Driver for Biomimicry

Last week we celebrated Bill’s advancement to PhD candidacy by watching the Maker documentary together while feasting on Chinese BBQ. “Maker” is a documentary on the rapidly growing Maker Movement and its impact on society, culture and economy. Recent advances in automated manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing) is driving the Maker Movement, which is powered by DIYers who want to build their own things rather than buying them. As a result of the Maker Movement, more and more makerspaces are popping up offering community-based industrial spaces equipped with cutting-edge manufacturing tools. Further supporting the Maker Movement is a shift towards open-source design templates and proliferation of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These trends are enhancing collaboration between tinkerers around the globe. As proven by nature, mixing up the gene pool helps speed innovation.

“Maker” is the follow-up of another documentary, “Design & Thinking.” Both are efforts of Muris Media. Bill knows the director of the two films, Mu-Ming Tsai, through the Innovation Open House (IOH) platform. IOH, founded by Taiwanese entrepreneur Chuang Chih-Chao, is a place where prospective students deciding which university is right for them can review personal insights from current students and alumni from countless universities with unique degree offerings. Bill shared his experience studying biomimicry at the University of Akron on IOH, and Mu-Ming described his experience of the film department at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. After connecting with Mu-Ming through IOH, Bill watched his documentary “Design & Thinking” and really liked it, which is why he recommended all of the biomimicry fellows get together, watch, and discuss the “Maker” follow-up.

The documentary shows great projects and recent advancement of the Maker Movement. Amongst the interviewees are some of high-profile players: Carl Bass (CEO of Autodesk), Charles Adler (Co-Founder of Kickstarter), Danae Ringelmann (Founder of Indiegogo), and Jim Newton (Founder of TechShop). Interviewees comment on the fact that the way of the future is democratized, small batch manufacturing, with more customization. For many years, society undervalued maker classes like woodworking and basket weaving, but creativity expressed through making is making a comeback.

The Maker movement, coupled with the open-source and crowdfunding movements, can play an important role for further driving and supporting biomimicry efforts not only because it encourages more and more people to make prototypes and test out their ideas, but also because it facilitates connections between distant makers with like interests. The scientific world can learn something from the Maker Movement too: open source inspires. The scientific community should push academic journals to make papers more widely accessible, and not make the scientists themselves pay for both the publication and acquisition of papers.

We strongly encourage the makers of these inspiring documentaries to make their next documentary about Biomimicry!

* This blogpost was written by Bill, Daphne and Emily

Other links:

– The Maker’s magazine has a post that is a must read for everyone interested in making your own Makerspace:

– Wiki house, an open house construction set:

– Digital Designs:

– Autodesk blogs:

– Shapeways 3D Printing Service and Marketplace:

Our World is Getting Trashed

In light of Ocean Day, which was on June 8th, this blog post is about the plastic soup drifting in our waters. Waste is a global problem that is created by our consumer-culture and economy. A radical change of our industrial processes and individual mindset is needed; this is being advocated in numerous new ideologies and strategies like Biomimicry, Cradle-to-Cradle, Circular Economy, and Blue Economy. These approaches encourage recycling and re-use of wastes as inputs for other value chains.

Awareness is one key element to support a necessary mindset shift. This 2012 documentary, called Trashed, is a must-see. It is very confrontational, but left me feeling motivated to contribute a change effort! And even John F. Kennedy believes in me: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

It’s impossible to summarize this documentary, because I think every minute is important. Also, images can be much more powerful than words. So please take the time to watch it, but, here’s a teaser of some shocking facts covered in the documentary:

–       There is 6 times more plastic waste than life (i.e. zooplankton) in the surface waters of our oceans. Zooplankton is an essential organism, as it is at the bottom of our food chain, and produces large portions of the oxygen we breathe.

–       Plastic particles leach chemicals into our waters. This  attracts other chemicals making the substances even more dangerous. These small particles are being ingested by marine organisms and stored in their body fat. The further down the food chain, the worse the contamination gets. This effect is called bio-magnification.

–       Plastic is built to be long-lasting and this is great for durable products. The problem we’ve created is caused by throwing plastics away after one usage. We use it for several minutes, at best a few days, but the actual plastic is around for a very long time after disposal.

One difficulty is that people love their habits and are resistant to change. How many times have you thought before grocery shopping “This time I’ll try to buy something different!” But still, you come home with most of the same products you always buy. Almost all of these products are wrapped in plastic packaging, and in turn put in plastic bags. Both the package and the bag quickly end up in your garbage can. This gets picked up, and you don’t see or think about it anymore. BUT… you might be surprised, one day you could actually get back in touch with your plastic waste, albeit in a very different, disturbing form!

See here your plastic bag’s life:

Let’s make it a challenge: try to not consume any new plastic product (packages, bags, cups, cutlery etc.) this week. You’ll quickly be amazed by how much plastic we are using; it’s everywhere! Even better, share some of your creative solutions for not using plastic. I start now! What about you? Let’s try making a new habit, together. This book could help us: The Power of Habit (by Charles Duhigg), it’s a great read!


Related info: Planet Ocean, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (freely available on YouTube), Midway, The Ocean Cleanup, Charles Moore’s TED talk: Seas of plastic

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