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  • Writer's pictureHana Křížová

Nature as the Best Teacher: Successful Bionics Workshop for School Children

Updated: May 1

In the morning of April 19, 2024, a small but exceptional workshop took place at our Institute for Nanomaterials, which dragged about 50 school children in the world of bionics. The event, titled "Wonders of Nature: Bionics under the Microscope," was part of our InterBridge project, which combines science and art.

Under the auspices of the Interreg Czech Republic-Saxony project, which connect us with our neighbors on the other side of the border, Doc.  Dora Kroisová took care of unforgettable experiences for school children from the Sokolovská Elementary School in Liberec. The children arrived in two groups: first, the sixth grade arrived at 10 o'clock, followed by the fifth grade at half past eleven.

Doc. Kroisová, an experienced lecturer from the Summer Children's University at TUL, adeptly handled the topic for the school children. was very skilfully coped with the interpretation of the topic for school children. Her ability to pass interesting facts about bionics and maintaining the attention of young listeners was truly admirable. And so the children learned why the geckon runs on the glass like Spiderman and how the designers in nature are inspired to create lightweight but solid structures. They also learned about nanofibers in a hen egg, about Velcro hooks, the self -cleaning ability of lotus, that Victoria's royal can carry the weight of a child on a leaf, why the wings of a ladybug never get stuck under the tiles, the truth behind the colors of butterfly wings, and how many species use mimicry for their protection or to deceive their prey. Mrs. Kroisová humorously reminded them that what we are discovering and attempting to imitate now, nature created long before us. However, the most enjoyable part was observing the specimens under the microscopes—peacock feathers, lotus leaves, beetles, and sea urchins. This part truly captivated the children.

The event started with a brief introductory speech by Dr. Voleská, who introduced the InterBridge project and its goals. She also mentioned the excursion to the botanical garden in Dresden, where our bionic adventure will continue. In Dresden, we will meet German children who share our enthusiasm for nature and bionics. This cross-border contact presents a great opportunity for enrichment and mutual inspiration.

Here, I dare to add a small note: Dr. Voleská, who presented both lectures, works as a scientific researcher in the Department of Advanced Materials, specializing in the development and application of special surface treatments. Using polishes containing nanoparticles, she prepares highly hydrophobic and self-cleaning surfaces that behave similarly to the surface of lotus leaves. She has also contributed to research on surface structures that minimize friction and turbulent flow in liquids, which was inspired by the structure of shark skin. So, even her scientific work is partially based on bionics.

In conclusion, bionics is not just a scientific discipline, but also a source of inspiration and entertainment for children and adults. Hopefully, our event was not for children just a welcomed escape from unwanted tests or exams at school, but hopefully truly enriched and expanded their horizons. We look forward to another adventure in the botanical garden in Dresden and to meeting our German friends!

Hana Křížová

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