Does NatEnt Improve Learning?

NatEnt sought ‘to develop the key STEM and entrepreneurship competences of young people to play an active role in tackling Europe’s key sustainability challenges.’ It proposed that STEM and biomimicry are a natural fit; applying biomimicry requires scientific understanding, and an ability to turn ideas into creative solutions.

NatEnt also sought to evidence that biomimicry offers inspiring real-world content to enhance entrepreneurship teaching. In particular, understanding entrepreneurship competences as the ability to innovate and think differently as essential to rethinking how we can balance the needs of humans and the rest of nature.

Does NatEnt make a difference for students?

The NatEnt platform asked pilot students to complete competence-focused questions at the end of each phase. This provided indications of their competence for key biomimicry, sustainability and entrepreneurship skills, and their readiness to progress to the following stage. In piloting and evaluating the success of the NatEnt platform, we worked with 710 students from 35 schools.

NatEnt sought to deliver two key outcomes for students:

  1. Develop the competence of students to apply biomimicry to understand and address Europe’s key sustainability challenges.
  2. Increase the capacity of students to apply entrepreneurial thinking and work collaboratively to create solutions for the green economy.

The answer to point 1 is a clear yes. From the exit questions 67% felt more confident to find solutions to design challenges and 72% more confident to influence design solutions. A high number, 86% felt they can imagine what a sustainable future might look like and link this with practical design ideas. As evidenced in the phase-by-phase results, students clearly see the biomimicry design process as a route to achieve this.

The answer to the second point is also positive, with 66% of students feeling confident to work with others in creating design solutions. The functionality of ‘appreciate’ and ‘comment’ certainly worked and students interacted with these functions in a number of the pilot schools. Where it worked well, students commented on other Teams and actively viewed their work. A total of 85 teams were registered on the platform by September 2023, with 466 appreciations between teams and 586 comments between teams. In addition, teams uploaded 210 shared resources to the commons for all teams to access.

Teachers reported successfully using the NatEnt platform with their students:

“Yes, that’s a great idea – we could use biomimicry as part of a STEM club! I’m going to look at adding it into the KS3 curriculum.”

“It’s another link to science capitol, PSHE, Life Skills, STEM, Geography. It’s a hot topic and I’m looking forward to adding it to our curriculum.”

“The structure of the course was brilliant for the students, it gave them enough information that they could be really independent later on in the programme.”

The final voice here goes to students themselves:

  • “Finally we learn something that we can apply immediately to goal that matter to us.” (German student)
  • “Now I want to become an entrepreneur.” (German student)
  • “I didn’t think before that STEM was so relevant for my everyday life!” (German student)
  • “It is stupid what we humans do to the planet. But we can do it differently.” (German student)
  • “I enjoyed the most the last part where we were creative, practical and innovative with real tasks.” (UK student)
  • “I enjoyed working on the last part of the project, I enjoyed being an inventor and using biomimicry to solve problems, invent new things.” (UK student)
  • “Getting to know the clever ways that plants sustainably adapt to do their function.” (UK student)
  • “We can learn that nature has a lot of good ideas that can make this world healthier and a good place to live in by copying what nature does.” (UK student)
  • “We learned that we can solve the problems from the society with the help of nature” (Romanian student)
  • “Europe it is in a difficult situation concerning the nature and water and we can work on solving this problems” (Romanian student)
  • “Biomimicry allows for the creation of biodegradable products, which are more sustainable. Additionally, products can be designed to require less material during production, making them more sustainable as well.” (Dutch student)
  • “Biomimicry makes techniques more efficient by learning from processes that have been improved through evolution. The more efficient something is, the less material and energy it requires, making it more sustainable.” (Dutch student)
  • “Through biomimicry, natural forms, processes, and ecosystems can be mimicked to design more sustainable systems.” (Dutch student)