STEMpower - Inspired Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

This Week's Question:

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. 

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Previous Questions:

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: