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February/March 2016 Teacher's Guide for
Biomimicry: Taking Inspiration from Nature
Table of Contents



About the Guide

Teacher’s Guide editors William Bleam, Regis Goode, Donald McKinney, Barbara Sitzman and Ronald Tempest created the Teacher’s Guide article material. E-mail: bbleam@verizon.net


Susan Cooper prepared the anticipation and reading guides.
Patrice Pages, ChemMatters editor, coordinated production and prepared the Microsoft Word and PDF versions of the Teacher’s Guide. E-mail: chemmatters@acs.org
Articles from past issues of ChemMatters can be accessed from a DVD that is available from the American Chemical Society for $42. The DVD contains the entire 30-year publication of ChemMatters issues, from February 1983 to April 2013.
The ChemMatters DVD also includes Article, Title and Keyword Indexes that covers all issues from February 1983 to April 2013.
The ChemMatters DVD can be purchased by calling 1-800-227-5558.
Purchase information can be found online at www.acs.org/chemmatters.

Student Questions


(taken from the article)

Biomimicry: Taking Inspiration from Nature


    1. What is biomimicry?

    2. Under what circumstances are the glues mentioned in the article not effective?

    3. What kind of forces are involved when a glue sticks to a surface?

    4. List at least three uses for a good underwater glue.

    5. Identify two organisms that make their own underwater glue.

    6. Describe the blue mussel’s glue.

    7. How does the shell of the Namib Desert beetle help it collect water?

    8. How does the self-filling bottle apply the idea of the Namib beetle?

    9. What is the “lotus effect”?

    10. Based on the article, predict whether a water droplet on a water-repellent surface will have a greater or smaller contact angle than one on a non-repellent surface?

    11. List three uses of the lotus effect.

Answers to Student Questions


(taken from the article)

Biomimicry: Taking Inspiration from Nature


      1. What is biomimicry?

According to the article, biomimicry is a “… discipline devoted to using the designs of nature to create helpful products and solve problems.”

      1. Under what circumstances are the glues mentioned in the article not effective?

These otherwise strong glues do not work well under water.

      1. What kind of forces are involved when a glue sticks to a surface?

The forces involved are intermolecular forces of attraction.

      1. List at least three uses for a good underwater glue.

The article mentions five:

  1. stopping the flow of blood in an injury,

  2. dentists cementing false teeth or a crown,

  3. repairing boats under water,

  4. stopping a water pipe leak, and

  5. making outdoor repairs in the rain.

      1. Identify two organisms that make their own underwater glue.

Barnacles and blue mussels are two organisms that make their own underwater glue.

      1. Describe the blue mussel’s glue.

The blue mussel produces a natural epoxy-type adhesive that is made in two separate compartments in the mussel. Secreted simultaneously, they form a tough glue that hardens in minutes. Chemically the components are made of several polymers.

      1. How does the shell of the Namib Desert beetle help it collect water?

The shell is covered in tiny bumps, the points of which are hydrophilic (attracting water) and the sides of the bumps are hydrophobic. Fog is the main water source, and tiny amounts of fog are attracted to the points of the bumps. Water accumulates there and, when enough accumulates, a drop forms, which then rolls down the bump onto the beetle’s back into a trough that leads to the mouth of the beetle.

      1. How does the self-filling bottle apply the idea of the Namib beetle?

The lid of the bottle is covered in tiny bumps made of hydrophilic aluminum oxide and hydrophobic polypropylene. Fog collects on the bumps as in the beetle and runs into a channel that fills the bottle.

      1. What is the “lotus effect”?

The lotus effect is the ability of a substance to repel water.

      1. Based on the article, predict whether a water droplet on a water-repellent surface will have a greater or smaller contact angle than one on a non-repellent surface?

Since a water droplet on a lotus leaf has a contact angle of 130o and a droplet on a piece of glass has a contact angle of 30o, it is likely that the water-repellent substance will have a greater contact angle, making the droplet more spherical and therefore more likely to roll off.

      1. List three uses of the lotus effect.

Three uses (the article provides four) of the lotus effect are:

        1. the non-stick honey spoon,

        2. stain-repellent fabrics using nanotechnology,

        3. Lotusan self-cleaning paints, and

        4. super-hydrophobic coatings on the surfaces of windows, mirrors, airplanes and boats.



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