BioMachine Design Challenge

BioSTEAM Design Challenge

Congratulations to the runner ups in each of the categories: Most Sustainable, Best Biomimicry, Most Innovative, Best STEM Machine, Best STEM System, Best Community Response and Most Empathetic.

Most Sustainable


Lucy Schreiber & Aaliyah Padilla

Taos Charter School, Grade 11

Design Statement: We as humans have evolved to cause so much harm to our planet. Our carbon emissions are heating up the earth, we are causing climate change and climate change is affecting everything. It even affects us in New Mexico directly, through drought. Drought doesn’t just hurt those you cannot drink the water, but those who eat plants that need that water, and animals that eat those animals. It is a vicious cycle and it is devastating for our ecosystems. The BioHex device will address drought and biodiversity loss directly.

The BioHex is an entirely biodegradable device that can collect water out of the air and provide a controlled release of it to vulnerable and valuable plants. It sits around a plant like a tree skirt so that it can get the water it has collected to the tree. The BioHex focuses on plants that are valuable to pollinators, for example apple trees, butterfly bushes, willows, lilacs, etc, during extreme drought periods. Using technology inspired by scopae (the hairs on a bee’s body) the BioHex may collect water out of the air. Scopae helps bees collect pollen off of flowers as well as to collect water to help them cool their hives. Speaking of hives, the BioHex is shaped like a hexagon because it is nature's favorite and most efficient shape. It fills up space while using the least amount of surface area! We inspired the BioHex off of the hexagons that are found in bee’s hives. The texture on the sides of the BioHex are inspired by the Namib Desert Beetle. The Namib Desert Beetle uses texture on it’s back to collect water in the air and then direct it to its mouth. Using this technology the outer sides of the BioHex can pick up water and direct it to the ground for the plant to absorb. The Biohex helps provide water that would otherwise be inaccessible while still allowing the plants to collect their own water out of the ground. It will help get plants through the most extreme drought periods and then it will decompose into the earth, leaving the trees thriving and healthy, just as they should be. The BioHex also comes in many different sizes so it may support plants of different ages/variety. It uses no dyes or harmful materials so it will never hurt the earth in an attempt to save it. The BioHex absorbs carbon when it is still standing so that after it has decomposed it will release the carbon to be used by other organisms.

While the BioHex cannot stop global warming or climate change, it can help these trees and plants directly. Like an ally. The Biohex will defend our plants against the bully we call Drought. It cannot stop the bully, but it can lend a helping hand and comfort our plants through a tough time. BioHex is our ally. The BioHex focuses on plants that are valuable to pollinators, for example if there is a beehive in a certain tree, or a plant that is very important for pollinators by, for example, providing lots of pollen, the BioHex can help it last to be useful to the pollinators. Besides being important for pollinators, the BioHex is also very inspired by them! The hexagon shape of the BioHex is inspired by bee’s hives because it is very durable and strong. Scopae was what allowed us to make the BioHex work! By being biodegradable, the BioHex may do its job and then return to Earth, but even after it is done providing water to the plant, it still is helping the ecosystem by releasing carbon that may be used by others. Drought is still a major problem, but with the BioHex, we don't have to worry as much about it affecting our extraordinary plants. BioHex, Our Planet’s Ally.

Best Biomimicry


Emma Atkinson, Karissa Winters & Violet Hay

Taos Charter School, Grade 7

Design Statement: New Mexico is a place prone to drought which can lead to devastating blows to the farming community. Farming is an important way of income and it can be hard to farm during droughts. Our invention The Aqua Bulb is a device that protects plants from losing moisture. The biomachine closes around the plant like a flower bud to prevent moisture loss and protect it from the sun, so the plant doesn't die. The machine has UV lights lining the inside of the petals so it does not die because of the lack of photosynthesis. It opens at night and during the day when it is most likely to get pollinated (1 or 2 pm). Before opening it gathers the moisture like a sponge keeping it in the petals until closed again then releasing the moisture back to the plant. When it opens it allows sunlight and pollinators to nourish the plant.

This biomachine will help farming, and the population of plants with its innovative adaptations based on the Night Blooming Cereus and the Rose butterfly. The machine design is based off of the Night Blooming Cereus and the Rose butterfly and is designed to help protect plants from drought. With this biomachine, plants will maintain more moisture and grow faster. The way that this machine closes its “petals'' is quite similar to the way the Night Blooming Cereus does during the day and then opening up at night. This machine is eco friendly powered by the sun. With solar panels which are based on the wings of the Rose butterfly. On its “petals” the machine collects sunlight while keeping the plant moist. The solar panels are more efficient than regular solar panels because they can collect sun at all angles no matter where the sun is facing. It does this because of structure. The structure makes thin solar cells which are more efficient than thick solar cells. This machine will not only help one individual plant but it can help many different plants at once. We can do this by making it in different sizes that could cover a whole farming field. This machine is quite similar to the way a greenhouse works keeping a warm, humid climate inside of the bud, covering the plant. Our biomachine The Aqua bulb nourishes the plants and will help the plant grow faster and flourish. This could be beneficial to farmers and people all over the world as well as pollinators. This machine will have many benefits for our agriculture and will help cut down the use of water while dealing with drought.

Most Innovative

The Unsighted Visual-inator

Taylor Donaldson

Taos High School, Grade 11

Design Statement: What my Biomachine solves is to see without the use of your eyes. Example it helps the blind to see, using the unsighted visual-inatior it uses echolocation by vibrations, and noises. So, your using your other senses to make up the one you lost. How you use it, you put both ear buds into your ears and put in the contacts in your eyes.There will also be a button on this device, when you press it, it sends out a high pitch sound that will bounce off of objects making vibrations to let the user see with his/her blind eyes. What inspired me to make this biomachine was a device called “bone conduction hearing device” it is a type of hearing aid, but it uses the bone behind the ear to hear. When you close your ears, you hear without your ears, while it’s on it feels like it’s coming from your forehead. When bats hunt, they use echolocation making it possible to see while pitch black, I want that for humans. The contact lenses containing data of different temperature, objects, areas and living things are throwing off. The temperatures having different colors like warnings and to know what it might be inspired by both butterflies and bats vision.

Best STEM Machine


Joaquin Rose & Mateo Carmona Yong

Taos Charter School, Grade 7

Design Statement: Imagine a time where there is never a fear of drought and the forests could be balanced year round. Even though it seems impossible, it isn’t, because of the ground-breaking invention of the Aquapod, drought will be a fear of the past. It combats drought-ridden ecosystems without leaving any negative impact on the surroundings. There is no production of harmful fuel or noise pollution and natural water sources are left untouched. Our design perfectly balances futuristic with simple and has been designed in the most versatile way possible. Everything about our biodegradable and innovative design is based on our goal, which is preserving the future. The Aquapod uses several enhanced animal adaptations combined with scientific engineering to help preserve ecosystems without hurting them. One of the Aquapod’s goals is to reduce the amount of carbon in the air while helping ecosystems out of extreme drought. To achieve this, we have developed technology that allows us to create water from oxygen and hydrogen that is extracted from methane from the atmosphere. Once the water is created within the machine, it is dispersed in the form of rain to struggling plants or trees that are in drought. All of these components come together to preserve and help ecosystems thrive by removing harmful greenhouse gases.

Each part of the Aquapod and every futuristic feature solves a problem of its own while still contributing to the main goal of combating drought. The Aquapod is powered by state of the art, biodegradable solar panels that are located on the torso of the machine, these are used to power our propellers as well as our water and plant nutrient creation system. But before we distribute that water and plant nutrients we use our newly developed sensors to distinguish trees and plants that are experiencing drought from ones that are doing fine. Our propellers are made from a durable but light material to provide for easy flying. We modeled them after hummingbird wings because of their unique ability to fly forward, backward, sideways, and straight up allowing the Aquapod to travel more efficiently while still being perfectly silent. To not disturb wildlife, our newly designed Chameo technology allows for our machine to blend in to its surroundings by changing its patterns, colors, and textures to match that of its environment. Just like how chameleons store different pigments to be used depending on their surroundings our machine does the same. We power all of these components from a battery that has a huge capacity and is extremely durable allowing us to fully charge the machine from very little sunlight. Every piece of our machine is not only fully biodegradable but it is also made of a very strong, light weight, durable, synthetic material, that way, in the event of it crashing or malfunctioning the remnants of the machine will not affect or change the ecosystem in any way. Every piece of the Aquapod was designed in which to leave little to no impact on the ecosystem as well as solving problems with innovative and futuristic technology. In the future, we hope to see lower temperatures, less drought, and thriving ecosystems due to the Aquapod’s efforts.

Best STEM System

Flower Power

Marika Moyer, Dahnyell Martinez, Seth Danem

Taos High School, Grade 11

Design Statement: Bees play a huge role in our everyday lives even though we may not see it. If you actually take the time to study the lifestyle of these tiny creatures, you would be very surprised to find out just how important they really are. We all know bees make the honey us humans like to enjoy, but the pollination process is much more difficult than it seems. Bees have over 5,000 different ommatidia in their eyes which causes their vision to be blurry. When searching for flowers at a far distance, bees have a hard time navigating their way around. In order to make their job easier, we have decided to create a flower bed that supports these flaws. Our flower bed will contain lights so bees will be able to see using their strong color signals to ultraviolet, blue, and green lights. Communication will also play a role in our flower bed for bees to use vibration to communicate with one another. This being said, sound waves being sent off by vibrations will be transmitted off of the bed to attract more bees to the location. Not only will our flower bed be beneficial to bees and their pollinating jobs, it will also be an eco-friendly art like design for the enjoyment of our community. Bees will have an easier lifestyle and our community can enjoy creativity while learning about the wonderful creatures who inspired it.

Best Community Response

Fractal Garden

Kaien Memmer

Taos High School, Grade 11

Design Statement: My project is a pollination garden that’s design is based in biomimicry. I first just wanted to make a garden for people to be able to get fresh produce from a local source. I then wanted to apply the use of bees to pollinate the garden, which isn’t hard you just make a bee population somewhere near the plants and as soon as the garden has flowers the bees find and pollinate them. While researching biomimicry and bee specific engineering, I decided to make my plots hexagons which are in pods of 4 to maximize use of area. The main mathematical focus behind my project was in the irrigation system. In my research I learned about Murrays Law and how nature found a way to perfectly distribute liquids in the most efficient way possible, so I wanted to use that in my garden design. Essentially, my irrigation system fractals out in increments of two five different times to bring water to all 64 of my plots, this is the same kind of water distribution that can be found in the vascular systems of both animals and plants. Other goals of the garden would be to raise awareness about the global bee problem, support the save the bees initiative via using bees directly to pollinate my plants, show how effective biomimicry can be, and to bring locally sourced produce to more people. My bio machine is a pollination garden that is fully based in biomimicry to maximize the efficiency of the garden and also to raise important awareness.

Most Empathetic

Bat Immune Drip

Gabriella Varos

Taos High School, Grade 9

Design Statement: This BioMachine project pushed me to explore deeper into something I'm already interested in: viruses, specifically Covid-19. I obsess over the spreading of germs and this was part of me trying to cope with it. Bat's unique immunity really caught my attention and from there, I began researching how bats immune systems work. Bats are not affected by viruses like humans or other mammals. They aren't affected because of their special immunity that doesn't initiate an inflammatory response. Although that inflammatory response in humans can be helpful when fighting off infections, it ends up fighting you with the virus. That's what makes us as humans sick when we come into contact with the virus. The idea for this design is a new way of looking at viruses and the impact it has on humans at the root, the host. If we can mimic the way that bat's immune systems react to viruses, we could have a new way of protecting humans from viruses. My drawn out idea is showing the connection of our immune systems to bat's.

Space Messengers is made possible in part by the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni; an opportunity sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by Partners of the Americas. This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts

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