You are here

Design in the Garden

Explore nature's genius and discover unique ways of improving manmade materials and processes. Engineer an original design by imitating a structure and/or function that exists in the natural world. 

K-2: Students learn how to look differently while discovering the patterns and shapes of plants in our 1,077-acre display garden. Students are inspired to sketch, describe, and design a model to solve a problem. 

3-5: Students examine the unique characteristics of plants to problem-solve. Students will mimic patterns and shapes found in nature to create, experiment, and compare design solutions. 

6-8: Students problem solve using the 4.5-acre Conservatory as inspiration. Faced with a common community problem, students must search for and apply characteristics of plants to design a new playground. Students will sketch a diagram and write precise descriptions about their design.

Pre- and Post-Activities for Natural Engineering

Next Generation Science Standards

Life Science: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • K-LS1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive.
  • 1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
  • 4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. 

Engineering Design

  • K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.