The Center for Learning with Nature is an education non-profit helping teachers build awe and capacity in their students through the extraordinary world of Nature-inspired STEM. We train school teachers to help children perceive the ingeniousness of design in the natural world, in order to learn how to invent a more beautiful world ourselves. We’ve inspired thousands of teachers through professional development and curricula, providing teachers with standards-aligned ways to enhance students’ interests and academic performance, their college and workforce readiness, while simultaneously enriching each student’s appreciation for the natural world and their aspirations and capacity to improve the world for the better through STEM.
How do we do all this? The opportunity to achieve all of these educational goals simultaneously has emerged because of Nature-oriented STEM curricula. In engineering, for example, innovation inspired by Nature (i.e., bio-inspired innovation or biomimicry) is now a major area of instruction and research in colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, and a core disciplinary practice across STEM professions. Bio-inspired innovators includes Harvard researchers designing robots to work collectively like ants, NASA scientists modeling how tree leaves unfurl in order to design better solar sails for satellites, Google engineers designing software programs based on neuroscience to improve everything from self-driving cars to energy-usage at their data centers, chemists developing new cancer treatments for people by studying the ways in which bacteria alter the immune systems of their hosts, and physicists studying how humpback whales move through water in order to improve the efficiency of wind turbines. These amazing developments enable K-12 educators to teach subjects like science, engineering, chemistry and physics in conjunction with life science, capturing students’ imaginations, nurturing their ambitions, and building their academic skills simultaneously. Thousands of teachers have discovered Nature-oriented STEM curricula as a pedagogical approach unique in enabling them to meet all of these educational goals simultaneously.
You can teach these subjects without reference to the natural world around us, of course, but you’d be missing the most engaging context for STEM learning available, and omitting a technological trend adopted by Fortune 500 companies and throughout post-secondary educational institutions, an approach to technology already responsible for so many of our most important innovations (including the telephone, based on the anatomy of the middle ear; antibiotics, based on how fungi combat bacteria; and computers, based on reasoning in the human brain), as well as our most promising technological horizons, from architecture to medicine to artificial intelligence. Since at least Leonardo da Vinci, innovation inspired by Nature has sparked the imaginations of our greatest inventors, and today, this paradigm is transforming everyday life, the economy, and how we even think about what’s possible.
We’re fortunate to live in a beautiful and interesting world, as a species with the capacity to appreciate our circumstances, and shape our own future and those of our children, limited only by the possibilities we can imagine, our aspirations, and hard work. The Center for Learning with Nature helps teachers integrate wonder and technological mentorship from the natural world into everyday classroom-based STEM curricula, in order to build an appreciation for Nature that lasts a lifetime, enrich the educational experiences of students, and accelerate humankind’s transition to a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable way of life.
The Center for Learning with Nature is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our federal tax ID number is 46-5145494. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.
We make amazing curricula because the world is amazing… and because the next generation deserves it.
We make amazing curricula… because they deserve it.
If you are interested in Nature-oriented approaches to teaching, some other resources you may want to check out include:
Gordon Hempton’s wonderful and beautiful work on hearing Nature: https://onbeing.org/programs/gordon-hempton-silence-and-the-presence-of-everything/
A variety of materials for K-12 from The Biomimicry Institute: https://biomimicry.org/education/
Activities and resources for K-5 from the University of Louisiana (Lafayette): https://www.makinginspiredbynature.org/
Activities and resources for middle/high school from the European Union: https://biolearn.eu/
Bioinspired robotics curricula for middle schoolers from Tufts University’s School of Engineering: https://www.terc.edu/biorobots/curriculum-resources/
If you know of other resources we should add to this list, please contact us.