STEMpower - Inspired Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

This Week's Question:

Rope + Inspired Engineering = Vines
The earlies ropes date back to prehistoric times, and were made from plant fibers, such as vines. The vines were twisted or braided together to form stronger and longer ropes, similar to the way that some vines wrap themselves around a stronger solid support to continue growing. Engineers have designed many different types of rope for a variety of uses and situations. (Courtesy:

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Previous Questions:

Octopus + Inspired Engineering = Suction Cups
The suction cup appendages on the legs of an octopus were the inspiration  for the modern suction cup, patented in 1882. (Courtesy:

Boxfish + Inspired Engineering = Bionic Cars
A concept car was designed by engineers at Mercedes Benz to mimic the streamlined profile and sturdy, boxy frame of the boxfish. The bionic car turned out to be table, fuel efficient, and durable. The company plans to use more of these elements in future cars. (Courtesy:

Kingfisher Bird + Mechanical Engineering = The Bullet Train
A kingfisher bird can dive into water without making a splash.  Engineers designed the front of the bullet train to look like the beak of a kingfisher bird so that the train could move through the air more efficiently.  When a high speed train goes through a tunnel, it builds up a cushion of air in front of it that suddenly expands when exiting the tunnel, causing a loud sonic boom.  The shape of the bullet train allows it to move through the air in a tunnel without building up that large cushion of air, making it quieter when exiting the tunnel. (Courtesy:

Sharks + Inspired Engineering = Racing Swimsuits
The V-notch ridges on a shark's skin reduce drag, allowing it to swim fast with less effort.  Engineers have designed swimsuits made from materials based on the varying shape and texture of sharkskin.  These suits made their debut at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia and are now commonly used in competitive swimming worldwide. (Courtesy:

Termite mounds + Inspired Engineering = Passive Air-Conditioning
African termites keep their mounds cool by constantly opening and closing vents throughout the mound to direct the flow of air from the bottom to the top.  Engineers designed the cooling system of the Eastgate Center in Zimbabwe to mimic the way tower-building termites construct their mounds. (Courtesy:

Ghosts & Flatworms + Engineered Science = Robots that can walk, swim or fly
The ability of several animals to move over terrains such as ground and water by real-time adaptation to the environment has inspired the development of multi-terrain robots, but their working area is limited. Therefore, an autonomous decentralized control scheme for a robot has been created based on a scaffold-exploitation mechanism inspired by flatworms; simulations showed that the robot could move over various irregular terrains.  (Courtesy:

Burdock Seeds + Inspired Engineering = Velcro
In 1948, a Swiss engineer, George de Maelstral, took a walk with his dog and came home with plant burrs (seed pods) stuck all over his pants and his dog.  After examining these burrs under a microscope, he got the inspiration for creating a new kind of fastener - Velcro!  It took eight more years of experimenting to develop and perfect his invention. (Courtesy:

Lotus Leaves + Science + Fashion = Water Repellant Fabric
A lotus leaf naturally repels water.  Engineers have developed a way to chemically treat the surface of fabrics so that they repel water much like the surface of a lotus leaf, making the fabrics more waterproof. (Courtesy: