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Students from TISA’s 5-8th grade classrooms participated in the Water is Life: Standing Rock project this November. Through art and social engagement they  learned about the growing movement in Standing Rock North Dakota working to protect our water resources and sacred lands threatened by the  construction of the Dakota Pipeline.  Students received a special visit from Christopher Lujan from Taos Pueblo who has been on the Frontline and helping out at the Camp for the past months. They learned first hand what is happening there and reflected on the issues that are coming to the surface from this civil action. Chris helped them explore their own slogans around the topic of water, indigenous rights and 1st amendment rights. Students then worked with local artist, Jason Rodriguez of ARTAOS, to design and print vinyl banners  12 donated by Taos News, as well as 8 t-shirts. The project culminated when STEAM Coordinator, Agnes Chavez, hand delivered the banners and t-shirts to the Oceti Sakowin school, elders, and the International Indigenous Youth Council. Photos and videos from this exchange were shared with the students so they could see the joy and impact of their gesture.

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The project is part of TISA’s new STEAM Lab which explores not only the cool technologies, but also the ethical considerations and impact of science and technology on our society and environment.  According to the Next Generation Science Standards, students must learn, “Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.   Energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural sources and their use affects the environment. Some resources are renewable over time, others are not. Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.”

The Water is Life: Standing Rock project provided a real world understanding of this core concept through art and direct social engagement. Stay tuned for more interdisciplinary projects from the STEAM Lab@TISA.