STEMarts Lab collaborated with Taos Land Trust in 2019 to design a new program called BioSTEAM@Taos Land Trust which is now live! For our first BioSTEAM project we selected artist, Ana MacArthur, who designed a site-specific interspecies installation called Pollinator Concentrator, reflecting on the impact of local and global pollinator decline and biodiversity loss.
The installation is located at Rio Fernando Park in Taos, New Mexico. The installation also integrates a bat detector on the land which tracks and visualizes the movement of bats living at the park. Approximately 20 bat species have been identified by bat biologist, Mark Balistreri.
Taos Land Trust staff, led by Ben Wright, TLT’s Education and Lands Project Coordinator, collaborated with the artist and the Taos Native Plant Society to design and plant a pollinator garden around the site. They are planning to surround the site with wildflowers to dedicate the area to pollinators.
Mark Goldman’s class at UNM-Taos, Construction Technologies worked with the artist to build the parabolic dishes. Landscape designers, Angelika Heikaus, and Susannah Gelb and many other collaborators came together to make this installation a reality.
(Read: Birds, bees and bats: The Pollinator Concentrator project at Río Fernando Park in the Taos News!)
STEMarts Lab created a unit on the BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool platform which provides a wealth of teacher resources that revolve around the Pollinator Concentrator installation. The goal is to use the art installation as the springboard for students to delve into the ecological topic of biodiversity loss through sci-art explorations. We also bring together experts from interdisciplinary fields of study and Taos Pueblo cultural specialists to provide diverse perspectives on the topic of biodiversity.
Our hope is that the BioSTEAM@TaosLandTrust project will beautify the park with a site-specific installation and education program that; educates our youth on the restoration work happening at the park as a model for other communities, inspires students to connect to and design with nature, expands understanding of traditional cultural knowledge and the indigenous history of the land, and increases visitation to the park as a place to feel wonder and respect for biodiversity and its impact on local culture, food security and the global health of the planet.
About the artist
Caption: Ana MacArthur (left) planning the site-specific installation with Taos Land Trust Staff, Juniper Manley and Ben Wright
MacArthur’s trans-disciplinary practice functions as a creative catalyst by excavating nature’s processes and connected metaphors through the specific lens’s of life’s relationship to light, environmental intelligence, and appropriate technology. MacArthur’s history in working with light based technologies, has evolved to installations immersed in the natural world. Ana’s work and unique biomimicry curriculum methodology around the topic of biodiversity and pollinators inspired and informed the Pollinator Concentrator Project. Visit Ana MacArthur website to learn more.
Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA) Workshop
Caption: TISA students at Ana MacArthur’s workshop
A 4-Day immersive Pollinator workshop took place at Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA) with our guest artist Ana MacArthur. The workshop focused on the theme of pollinators and took place in the classroom and on the field at the Fernando Park. Through the artist’s unique research and practice with biomimicry, holography and optics, students learned about the importance of pollinators to the health of our ecosystem, how pollinators species are in peril and what we can do to help. They learned how to make and paint alginated mold tiles which is part of the artist’s work.
BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool
Teachers can learn about the Pollinator Concentrator installation at Rio Fernando park through an online platform called the BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool which builds curriculum tools and resources around the installation and the topic explored by the artist; biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. We bring together experts from diverse fields of study and cultural knowledge to provide their unique perspectives on the biodiversity topics to inspire and inform student designs. The project is designed to the Next Generation Science Standards, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool is a resource and guide for teachers to develop lesson plans integrating BioSTEAM projects into their curriculum designed for middle and high school students.
INTERviews: Inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural perspectives
The newest feature of the BioSTEAM program is our collaboration with Taos Pueblo cultural experts as curriculum advisors and as participants in video interviews to share their knowledge around the topic of biodiversity and living in balance with nature. The video interviews led by youth leader, Eloragh Espie, TrueKids Taos, also include conversations with the artist, Ben Wright of Taos Land Trust, and more. Check out their powerful and inspiring stories on the video INTERviews page of the BioSTEAM website.
BioSTEAM Professional Development Training
Eighteen teachers (18) from nine Taos County schools participated in a full day Zoom BioSTEAM professional development training hosted by the Taos Municipal School Administration on June 8, 2020. Teachers learned how to use the curriculum tool and how to participate in the BioSTEAM youth program. Kaila Dicky piloted the Pollinator Concentrator project this summer at Upward Bound Math and Science directed by Katie Bryant and all schools will implement the project in the fall.
Students, families and teachers from Taos County and beyond can visit the Rio Fernando Park to engage with this unique sci-art installation coupled with the online BioSTEAM curriculum tool for an immersion into nature through the lens of art and science.
Special thank you to our sponsors: Fasken Foundation, LANL Foundation, Janet and John Mockovciak, Taos Community Foundation, Andrea Szekeres, and Tom Greenbaum for making this project possible.