Monday, January 23, 2017

Constraints and Innovation in a Biological Model

My students wrote this piece today in response to our first lab exercise.

This model has some constraints due to its materials. Firstly, we are restricted by the amount of space given to build the model--the table. Secondly we are constrained by the zometools--the height, shape and flexibility. These constraints affect the efficiency of our lab and the final look of our model.


In evolution, there is no final product. The organism/system is always undergoing change, never reaching a final product, or final phase in which change stops. Different constraints will always offer a chance for a new adaptation and lead the organism onto a new path of evolution.

Nature overcomes the problem of constraints by building everything with a purpose. No materials are wasted on useless parts, and every part gets exactly the amount of material it needs to function. While nature has this happen naturally, we as human builders need to plan out beforehand, and build with purpose, to overcome limitations in material.
The constraints bring species opportunities to evolve because they are trying to be fit for the situation and environment. As we mentioned previously, there are no final products in evolution, so species are constantly getting more fit to deal with the constraints. I would say constraints do nothing but inform the final product, as constraints guide how people work. They inform the decisions we make - how we will adjust. We won't be able to complete tasks if we are not adhering to them.  So, it would be fair to say that the final product is a product of constraints.


An innovation we discovered today was that if you piece together each segment individually, then connect them together as a whole, the building process is much faster and efficient than if each person added pieces one by one to the whole model. In addition, connecting the line segments together in a way that was slightly angled, but not straight increased the surface area of the model.

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