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What: Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in the United States (U.S.).

Why: STEM subjects in the U.S. have been on a consistent decline over the past few years. The problem isn’t the subjects themselves, but rather, the way in which they’re taught. They’re unpopular and mind-numbing. Lacking good story.

How: (In this example) Associative learning via the National Football League (NFL).

Nike, the current company responsible for designing the NFL jerseys already uses bio-inspired design. By redesigning their marketing the National Football League with Nike and Todd Van Horne (current designer responsible for the NFL jerseys) could use anatomical and architectural visuals to make science using story, for kids, a more engaging.

NFL3.8 2

What if kids knew the story science behind the bright colored gloves and shoes the Seahawks wore? (When running the hands and feet move faster than other parts of the body. By highlighting the hands and feet you can visually trick your opponents to think you’re moving faster than actually you are. Another trick (in staying with the eyes) is font design. As a designer you can make players look broader or physically more imposing by printing their uniform numbers wider at the top and narrower moving down; visually creating a broader shoulder.)

What if kids, in wearing next year’s jerseys, their favorite athletes jerseys, knew what polycarbonate and biomimicry- built-as-needed design was? (Built-as-needed design or biomimcry would be 3D modular printing combine modular and nested components to self organize and build from the bottom up jerseys. For example, Athletes would slip into one-piece body suits speckled with reference points while an optical scanner reads the bodysuit and builds a 3-D model of the athlete.


Designers (for the marketing and the kids sake we’ll call them scientists and engineers) then fit the padding to the digital model and adjust it on request for more protection or mobility depending on the athlete and their needs form to function.

The engineer or scientist then sends the design to the 3D printer to print, try on and adjust, and the next day a+b is to a as a is to b you have something NFL ready made awesome via STEM.

nfl3.8 1

Inspiration for Polycarbonate (NFL 3.8): I never realized the power of story of science until a recent accident.

A young girl at the barn I ride at had a riding accident and timid to get back in the saddle I gave her my ridding gloves. “Here, I want you to ride with these. They’re bulletproof.” Looking at me a little confused I told her to look at tag describing the gloves material. Sparing her the details I explain to her that polyamide, what my riding gloves are made out of, is what we use to make bulletproof vests. Her eyes widening I continue and explain that her favorite riders “Yup, just like Carl and Charlotte” use these gloves too.


I smile as she walks way because I haven’t just nudged her confidence in right direction (via science) but I’ve given her something she can associate and relate to; a story to tell her friends that she we wears the same bulletproof gloves that her favorite athletes wear. The athletes, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, that she aspires and looks up to.

Why the NFL? One: Viewership. Two: Influence. Three: Sales points. Fourth and most importantly: Athletes remind kids the dream is possible. It gives them something to aspire too.

Biomimetics example (read article above, Flex Panel and Face Mask): For an animal that repeatedly slams its head into tree trunks at 16mph without cerebral trauma or concussions, the woodpeckers cranial anatomy provides a good example of biomimetic design. . . To disperse impact like the Riddle SpeedFlex helmet, the woodpecker has a plate-like patch of spongy bone called the cancellous bone at front of its skull that decompresses or absorbed shock when hitting its head.

About the 3.8: Biomimicry- from bios meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate- is a discipline that studies and imitates nature’s best ideas to solve complex human problems.

“3.8” refers to the idea that after 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils and what surrounds us is the secret to success; what surrounds us are the consummate engineers.

Anatomical and architectural visuals:

Inspiration for visual tricks

Inspiration for 3D printing


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