BioMachine Design Challenge



The BioSTEAM Youth Program will be offering ongoing BioSTEAM projects which are featured on our home page and through this Project page. For our first BioSTEAM project we partnered with the Taos Land Trust and BioSTEAM 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 focus is on how pollinator decline impacts local culture, food security and the global health of the planet. 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.

The BioSTEAM@TaosLandTrust Project builds curriculum tools and resources around the Pollinator Concentrator installation and the topic explored by the artist; biodiversity loss and pollinator decline. The goal is to use the art installation as the springboard to delve into the ecological topic through sci-art explorations. 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 where are in themselves a valuable teaching tool with the mission of working on meaningful solutions toward building a sustainable future for all.

How it Works

Use this BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool to build BioSTEAM classroom projects or assign sci-art activities for the Pollinator Concentrator project, either virtually from home or in the classroom. Through this platform we provide art-based projects that connect you and your students with a local-global network of people and organizations actively working on ecological and humanitarian solutions related to the topic. Below is a description for each of the main components of the program.

The Teacher Tools section provides all the related resources for the Pollinator Concentrator project including the Biodiversity Topics Map,  BioSTEAM Teacher WIKI, Pollinator Concentrator Map, and Teacher Resources with background research, articles and definitions for the content introduced.

The BioSTEAM Design Tool is the heart of the BioSTEAM project and is designed for the student to access directly. It takes them through the design stages of the Pollinator Concentrator project: Explore, Research, Experiment, Connect, Design...and share! They watch a virtual tour of the art installation, get to know the artist through the Artist Page, and watch the video INTERviews to see interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives on the topic of biodiversity and pollinator decline.

The BioSTEAM-Wiki is  part of the BioSTEAM Design Tool. This is where students will find links to articles, images, video, and tutorials that we have curated from the web around the broad topic of Biodiversity and Human Impact, and for the specific goal of inspiring and informing your final nature-inspired design for the Pollinator Concentrator project. The students navigates the BioSTEAM Wiki by entering keywords into the search field or clicking through the word cloud. Word clouds visualize the amount of information available on a topic - the bigger the word in the cloud, the more links to explore. They can also type in the key word of the design stage they are working on: Explore, Research, Experiment, Connect or Design. This will give them specific resources that they will need for that stage of the design process. The BioSTEAM-Wiki is just a starting point. Students should be encouraged to do their own research. This is an opportunity to develop media and science literacy skills such as fact checking and listing sources. Students will have to list their sources with the final submitted designs.

The Artist Page contains all the information about the artist's installation, Pollinator Concentrator and her process. Students learn about the topic of biodiversity and pollinators through the artist lens and it becomes a source of inspiration for their own designs.

Citizen Science, also known as crowd-sourced science, is when members of the general public help with the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world, to meaningfully contribute to scientific research as well as to increase the public's understanding of science. The Citizen Science section contains a collection of citizen science projects that encourage students to go outside and observe pollinators at the Rio Fernando Park, in their backyard or community, while helping to build the scientific database on biodiversity.

The INTERviews page brings together a diverse group of voices from inter-disciplinary fields and inter-cultural experiences through a series of INTERviews. Students watch the videos from home or in the classroom to experience unique perspectives around the topic of biodiversity loss and pollinator decline.

The Standards page provides details on how the BioSTEAM projects are designed to multiple standards. In addition to the Next Generation Science Standards, the biodiversity/pollinator loss topic addresses several of the 17 Goals adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDG goals are a great teaching resource for connecting students to local-global projects around the world.

The Partners page lists organizations that share our mission to inspire youth to connect to and design with nature to imagine a better world. They collaborate with us and if they offer youth programs or educational opportunities they are listed on this page.

The FAQ page lists organizations that share our mission to inspire youth to connect to and design with nature to imagine a better world. They collaborate with us and if they offer youth programs or educational opportunities they are listed on this page.

BioSTEAM International is an international youth exchange program that facilitates communication and collaboration between youth leaders around the world through the BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool platform. The goal is to encourage intercultural respect, creative expression and scientific literacy as students collaborate on a common BioSTEAM project.

BioMachine: 2021

The BioMachine 2021 Design Challenge was an opportunity for students to identify and research issues that were important to them and then design their own sustainable solution through art and science. Middle and high school students from Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque participated. Students were asked to use biomimicry to design an imaginative ‘BioMachine’ that explored the topic of biodiversity loss and pollinator decline and its importance to our community, our food security and the health of our planet. The teachers were given the online BioSTEAM Curriculum Tool with a biomimicry curriculum derived from our guest BioSTEAM artist, Ana MacArthur, whose installation at Taos Land Trust called Pollinator Concentrator, inspired this design challenge. Teachers had to find the time amidst COVID and online learning to integrate the BioSTEAM activity into their core curriculum. Each teacher designed a unique curriculum that integrated the challenge into their subject area i.e. math, science, art, etc.

The BioMachine Design Challenge received a total of 197 student entries which included a drawing and a design statement. The jurors were Ana MacArthur, and Andrea Polli, sci-artist and founder of STEAM NM. The Best of Show prize is $300 and the seven category prizes are $100 each. A $100 Educator Engagement Award goes to the teacher who engages the most students with a comprehensive curriculum design.

The Educator Engagement Award goes to Justine Carryer of Taos High School for most students engaged through a comprehensive curriculum design entitled 'Applied knowledge of mathematics and its relationship to the natural and biological world.

The School Engagement Recognition goes to TAFT Middle School in Albuquerque New Mexico for best school-wide engagement through a comprehensive curriculum design entitled 'Honeycomb Design and Sustainable Material.

Special thanks to our OUR SPONSORS that made the BioSTEAM project and BioMachine Design Challenge possible.