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the poetry of science

Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry

Science and Children—July/August 2023 (Volume 60, Issue 6)

By Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong


Future Dreams Idea #63

by Janet Wong

What if
you could make
a pillow-backpack

and when you touched a button,

it would pop up into
a Giant Air Shell
to keep you safe in an earthquake?

Mom asks what I’m doing
with my old broken backpack,
a roll of foil,
duct tape,
all our plastic bowls,
a whole bag of marshmallows,
my sticky fingers,
and her tablet.

I say, Research!

Poem © 2014 Janet S. Wong from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong © 2014 Pomelo Books; illustration by Frank Ramspott from The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids © 2015 Pomelo Books.

Take 5! Activities

1. Place a backpack in front of you as your poetry prop. Then read this poem aloud, pausing dramatically before the final word, Research!

2. Read the poem aloud again, but this time invite students to say the last word (Research!).

3. Use this poem to point out how a variety of everyday items (old broken backpack, roll of foil, duct tape, plastic bowls, bag of marshmallows, tablet) are used to try to make something brand new (a Giant Air Shell). How can we use ideas and imagination to create new, original products using a variety of everyday resources?

4. Talk about how scientists, engineers, and inventors can get ideas from nature that help us solve real-world problems. Use this poem to prompt a discussion of the concept of biomimicry: How does a shell protect a turtle or a crab or an armadillo? How could a shell protect a person during an earthquake?

5. Revisit “Tinker Time” by Janet Wong (Online Resources), another poem about creating something new out of something old. Or for more information, share the nonfiction picture book Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature by Kristen Nordstrom (Resources).


Wong, J.S. 2014. “Future Dreams Idea #63” in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, eds. S. Vardell and J. Wong, 64. Princeton, NJ: Pomelo Books.


Nordstrom, K. 2021. Mimic makers: Biomimicry inventors inspired by nature. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Online Resources

Janet Wong author website:

“Tinker Time” by Janet Wong:

Life Science Literacy Elementary

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