It's crucial for designers of physical objects to understand how the world around us is constructed. Whether your materials of choice are wood, metal, plastic or fabric, your comprehension of how that material behaves is the first step in you creating a successful design with it. It can also be helpful to look outside your wheelhouse and see how other materials behave.
I'm guessing few of you work with sand, so you'll likely find the video below fascinating. Here civil engineer Grady Hillhouse demonstrates how sand, an inexpensive and widely available material, can be made stronger by adding slices of material to counter sand's natural inclinations. (You've got to sit through some science-y explanations in the beginning, so if you're impatient, skip ahead to 4:09.)