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STEMarts Apprentices Explore the Universe!

Announcing our new STEMarts Apprenticeship program, designed for women/girls from Northern New Mexico (ages 14-20) and launched in 2022 thanks to a 2-yr Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation Education Enrichment grant. Congratulations to our winners! Amelia Martinez, Dominique Vigil, Feliciana Gonzales, Megan Odom and Svetlana Backhaus. We also welcomed an congratulate Jade Rael as this year’s Apprentice mentor. This position was sponsored through the Taos Pueblo Education and Training Division Apprenticeship program for native residents of Taos County. Jade is a first year student at UCLA, participates in all the programming, and has initiated a new STEMarts Lab Podcast series which she will lead in collaboration with the apprentices.

Apprentices discover and develop their creative interests and gain valuable work skills. They experience cutting edge science and technology as part of professional STEMarts events. Apprentices become part of the international Space Messengers team, receive a $1000 stipend for the year, and customized training in STEAM areas including; programming, webdesign, XR/Metaverse design, projection mapping, data visualization, interactive design, and ArcGIS storymapping.

Our first cohort of STEMarts Apprentices just completed their first quarter and are rocking it. In this short time frame they have created their own websites and started monthly blog posts after an awesome virtual 3-day workshop led by Jennifer Case-Nevarrez, Community Learning Network (CLN), Santa Fe. They learned from John Di Ruggiero (CLN) how to use ArcGIS software to design geo-tagged StoryMaps and they have been getting up to speed on the STEMarts space-themed curriculum in preparation for Space Messengers, an international Mixed Reality traveling installation that aims to expand our relationship to the universe and our identify as planetary citizens. Next venue for Space Messengers: The PASEO Festival on September 15,16, 2022.

For the second quarter they form teams to work on their own STEAM projects and we provide the training and support they need to make it happen. Check out their websites below to see these projects evolve and to learn more about the STEMarts Apprentices in their own words.

Amelia Martinez

Dominique Vigil

Feliciana Gonzales

Megan Odom

Svetlana Backhaus

Zelo-Jade Rael

STEMarts International

Why International?

The COVID pandemic has deeply affected our educational institutions and how we relate to each other. Students and teachers have been required to work/study from home in isolation which created an urgent need for innovative ways to interact, teach and learn online. Travel bans and heightened health security measures led to cancellations of international and local field trips, along with opportunities for intercultural exchange. At the same time, COVID has brought to the forefront the need to develop scientific literacy to make informed decisions concerning the impact of science and technology on our every day lives.

It is more urgent than ever for our youth to be informed and inspired to respond to the complex challenges of the 21st century with empathy and humanity. Students need opportunities to develop relationships with other students from diverse geo-cultural backgrounds with more focus on the humanitarian and ecological challenges of our time. This climate is what inspired STEMarts International.

What we do

STEMarts International is an international youth exchange program that facilitates communication and collaboration between youth leaders around the world through the STEMarts Curriculum Tool platform. The goal is to encourage intercultural respect, creative expression and scientific literacy as students collaborate on a sci-art installation that is presented at festivals in the partner country.

How we do it

We connect students in the New Mexico with schools in participating countries through a partnership with U.S. Embassies. Our first partners are the U.S Embassy and Consulate in Portugal and the U.S Consulate of Guadalajara Mexico. More countries will be added as the project evolves.

Students in partner countries participate in workshops, design challenges and collaborations led by artists and interdisciplinary experts.

For the virtual workshops, students are paired with their team in the partner country and meet weekly to work on the hands-on STEAM activities designed for the project. These sessions are facilitated by our trained STEAM Ambassadors who are alumni of the U.S. Youth Ambassador program and STEMarts Lab Alumni. All students communicate and collaborate as ambassadors representing their communities and their countries.

We work closely with the classroom teachers to help guide the students through the various projects we offer. The STEMarts Curriculum Tool will have all the workshop videos and resources to support the students. This project allows students to work from home or classroom. As a culminating event, the students communicate the science they learn by contributing to a sci-art installation that is part of festivals around the world.

Our first STEMarts International project is called Space Messengers, and launches in the Spring 2021.


  • Develop interpersonal communication and ambassador skills through an international collaboration.
  • Learn about cutting edge science and environmental/space policies to develop scientific literacy.
  • Expand understanding of our connection to nature and the universe to develop environmental stewardship.
  • Create participatory art informed by science and designed to share with your community.
  • Collaborate with students from other countries and develop intercultural understanding and respect.
  • Become part of a collaborative international sci-art installation that will tour the world!
  • Have the opportunity to apply for apprenticeships for STEAM events.


  • Offer an exciting real world activity for your students that is easy to implement and aligned with the standards.
  • Develop partnerships with teachers in different countries to share ideas.
  • Become a certified STEMarts International teacher and receive stipends to participate in more exchanges.


Contact us to learn more.

What happens when a physicist from CERN, a Lakota water protector, a Tewa educator and a new media artist meet with 26 Taos fourth and fifth graders?

Perhaps, opposing worldviews will converge to create a new balance in the universe!

Reposted from Janet Webb,
Taos, NM, April 2017

“Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics” is a youth workshop at Taos Integrated School for the Arts (TISA) organized by their new STEAM Lab@TISA coordinator, artist-educator, Agnes Chavez. On Monday, April 10, students from Megan Bowers Avina’s TISA classroom will spend the morning with Dr. Steven Goldfarb (CERN Physicist) and Steve Tamayo (Lakota Cultural Specialist and Water Protector) exploring the mystery of Dark Matter through the lens of two worldviews. Megan explains, “Agnes and I have been working with the TISA students for weeks preparing them with creative activities on Dark Matter and native science-western science worldviews. The kids are incredibly talented, compassionate, and have developed insight on the possibilities of what makes up Dark Matter, even impressing the scientist from CERN with their theories.”

The two-day workshop is part of the Projecting Particles Project, introduced during The PASEO 2014 – which also included a virtual collaboration with Dr. Goldfarb and the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. Now Dr. Goldfarb will appear in person to explain the Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world, and how it is used to discover particles that are the key to our understanding of the universe. With Standing Rock water protector, Steve Tamayo, students will learn the indigenous way of using science to relate to the physical world. The students will participate in the building of a Lakota tipi as they hear metaphorical stories that share the cosmological observations of indigenous peoples. Guided by the research and wisdom of Dr. Cajete, the interdisciplinary team will encourage youth to imagine a new worldview that combines science, technological and life-sustaining ecology that is in balance with nature.

With artist Agnes Chavez, students will transfer their newly created stories into animated electronic graphics to be projected inside of the tipi, creating an installation that they will share with the community at a live performance on April 11. Chavez will be assisted by three Taos High School students, all of whom have participated in past Projecting Particles workshops where they learned the Tagtool animation tool from Paseo artist and Tagtool app developer, Markus Dorninger.

The public will be able view a video documenting “Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics” in three different roundtable discussions  – in Taos, Espanola and Santa Fe.

Quick View:
April 10-11 – Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics: Exploring Dark Matter
Youth Workshop for TISA students at Taos Youth and Family Center (limited press passes available)

April 11, 7:00 – 9:00pm – Live public viewing of student projection inside Lakota tipi
Taos Youth and Family Center, 407 Paseo del Cañon East, Taos

April 12, 6:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street, Taos

April 13, noon-2:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Northern New Mexico Community College, 2921 N Paseo de Onate, Española

April 13, 6:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Biocultura, 1505 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe

About the participants of “Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics”

Dr. Steve Goldfarb is a physicist from the University of Melbourne, working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN in Geneva Switzerland. He is active in education and outreach, is the webmaster for the ATLAS public web pages, co-chair of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, on-site coordinator of the REU Summer Student and Research Semester Abroad programs for American undergraduates at CERN, and advisory board member for Quarknet.

Steve Tamayo is based in Omaha Nebraska. He draws upon his family history as a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe. His fine arts education (BFA from Singe Gleska University) along with his cultural upbringing have shaped him as an artist, historian, storyteller and dancer. Steve provides activities during his residencies that include art and regalia making, drumming, powwow dance demonstrations and lectures on the history, symbolism and meaning behind the Native customs and traditions. Most recently Steve led workshops with kids at Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Dr. Greg Cajete is a Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. Dr. Cajete has authored five books: Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education, (Kivaki Press, 1994); Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model, (Kivaki Press, 1999); Spirit of the Game: Indigenous Wellsprings (2004) , A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living, and Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Clearlight Publishers, 1999 and 2000).

Agnes Chavez is a new media artist and educator and co-director of The Paseo, working at the intersection of art, science, technology and social practice. She partners with scientists and programmers to explore our relationship to nature and technology through data visualization, sound and projections. Her recent installation, Origination Point, visualized the origins of matter and the Higgs Field, informed by a research stay at the ATLAS Experiment at CERN in 2015. Agnes is Co-Director of The PASEO, the outdoor participatory arts festival which brings projection, performance and installation art to the streets of Taos, New Mexico. In 2009 she founded the STEMarts Lab, which empowers youth through STEAM workshops that integrate science, technology and new media arts through social practice.

Megan Bowers Avina Is a nationally award-winning photojournalist and artist who has lived in Taos for over 20 years. Avina is the Art’s Curriculum Coordinator at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts and fourth grade teacher. Avina strives to create a classroom atmosphere of real world issues to inspire her students to become critical thinkers and instruments of positive change in their community/world. Avina is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and is currently obtaining her Masters of Fine Arts at UNM. Avina is ecstatic to have joined forces with Chavez in bringing an amazing curriculum to the students at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts.

Thanks to sponsors TISA and a grant from the Martin Foundation, ATLAS Experiment at CERN, Harwood Museum of The Arts, Taos Youth and Family Center and Northern New Mexico Community College.

How Standing Rock inspired a new STEAM youth curriculum

A visit to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock has inspired a new STEAM curriculum for youth. Through a multicultural collaboration with indigenous educators, artists and particle physicists students will explore the correlations of indigenous cosmology to modern science through art and social practice.  The curriculum will focus on our human connection to nature, science and technology through diverse worldviews.

As an artist and Americorp VISTA working at the intersection of art, science, technology and education I focus on youth, inspiring them to discover who they are and their connection to their community and the world. So when I heard that Standing Rock was started by youth, supported by elders and sustained by over 300 tribal nations and countless activist organizations from around the world, I felt called to action. When I got there elders told me they felt it was their prayers calling people. I believe that Standing Rock is an important and transformational movement. I wanted to go in person to meet and support the youth leaders from the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) and I had heard from Taos Pueblo drum maker, Christopher Lujan that someone had started a school at the camp for the over 200 kids living there. So I got together with Chris , Jason Rodriguez of ARTAOS and teacher, Megan Avina Bowers at TISA (Taos Integrated School of the Arts) and we designed a workshop for the kids which resulted in student-created banners which I delivered to the young water protectors.  They were so open and appreciative of this gift from the kids that they even took the time to record a video message for them. What impressed me most is that they are not just fighting the pipeline, they are focused on the idea of building a Just Transition Community grounded in prayer and modeling to the youth a new way to be in this world. I saw how they were focused on educating and raising awareness to the change that needs to happen to protect our natural and cultural resources for future generations, while understanding the important connection between ecological diversity and cultural diversity.

The media has not been covering this story, so the youth have taken to Facebook live streaming, drone footage from the front lines, and creating YouTube videos to communicate their message. The youth of Standing Rock are using the new Facebook live stream technology and free social media platform to  shake up the world and I came back wanting to continue this work in our schools and communities.

While there, I met Steve Tamayo, one of the Lakota teachers at the Oceti Sakowin school managed by Teresa Dzieglewicz who was living at the camp. Steve was sharing Lakota traditions while teaching kids how to build a Tipi.  I told him about a project I started in 2009 called Projecting Particles, collaborating with scientists at CERN, home of the particle accelerator in Switzerland. The workshops combine projection art and particle physics to explore new understandings of the universe.  We saw some fascinating correlations between traditional Lakota cosmology and modern particle physics.  We are now collaborating with CERN physicist, Dr. Steven Goldfarb,  to design a curriculum that explores these correlations through STEAM youth projects and a community lecture series. We hope that increasing understanding of radically new science concepts while building appreciation for the significance of indigenous cosmology and worldview can provide students with a meaningful, collaborative and unifying way to explore and understand the world around us.

Follow this blog to see how this project evolves.

Building Capacity for STEAM: Americorps Project expands into 2017

Two years ago I joined artist Andrea Polli and the Social Media Workgroup (SMW) as an Americorps VISTA. “Did you know that President Kennedy introduced the idea of VISTA to Congress in 1963? Or that many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Credit Unions, were expanded by VISTA members? VISTA has been on the forefront of ending poverty in America for 50 years.” Check out the Americorps VISTA website to read more about this important program.

In 2014, SMW received its first Americorps/VISTA grant to launch the STEAM NM initiative: Building Capacity for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts) Education in New Mexico. Now renewed and expanded for its third year with VISTA, our STEAM NM core group includes SMW along with five partners: UNM STEM Collaborative, The School of Architecture + Planning and COSMIAC; the CNM Fuse Makerspace, and The PASEO/STEMarts in Taos. My role as the Taos VISTA is to innovate and network STEAM initiatives in Northern New Mexico. It has been an exciting year that has led to new local and global partnerships to expand youth opportunities in our communities. Read more about it on the Social Media Workgroup website and stay tuned for 2017 programming.

Projecting Particles: Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics

MARCH 2017

A Spring 2017 workshop called Particle Physics Meets Lakota Cosmology is currently being designed for students at Taos Integrated School for the Arts (TISA) and we plan to take the workshop to multiple schools in New Mexico. Through a collaboration with Lakota Cultural Specialist, Steve Tamayo and CERN physicist Dr. Steven Goldfarb, students will explore the origins of the universe through Native American cosmology and particle physics experiments at CERN.  This project is part of the Projecting Particles series whose mission is to use art to explore the important discoveries in particle physics that are expanding our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.

Students learn about the origins of the universe through particle physics and participate in a virtual tour from the ATLAS Experiment in Geneva Switzerland, led by CERN physicist Dr. Steven Goldfarb. They then participate in a hands-on Tipi making and Dreamcatcher workshop with Lakota Cultural Specialist, Steve Tamayo to learn about Lakota cosmology. Students create stories that explore their micro-macro connection to the universe and the stars, correlating physics concepts to the big bang, black holes and constellations. Finally they learn projection mapping with Agnes Chavez to animate their stories with light on to a 24′ Tipi, and share their work with the community through a public event.

We are living in what is now being called the ‘Golden Age of Cosmology’ and cutting edge science and technology is revealing expanded understandings about ourselves and our universe that converge with indigenous cosmology. Exploring the correlations of indigenous cosmology to modern science through art making is a powerful way to increase understanding of radically new science concepts while building appreciation for the significance of indigenous cosmology and worldview.

I am currently working with Steve Tamayo and Steven Goldfarb on the curriculum design. Follow this blog for updates and please contact us if you are a school interested in this workshop.



ARTAOS + TISA: Augmented Reality Mural at Ziggy’s Frozen Yogurt Shop

As part of TISA’s new STEAM Lab, Amber McCabe’s 8th grade class participated in an Augmented Reality (AR) Mural Work/Study Project providing real-world community focused learning of STEAM skills. AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Information about the environment and its objects is overlaid on the real world. This exciting semester long project inaugurated spring 2017 and is now open so stop by for some augmented reality and frozen yogurt!

How it Happened

Co-founders, Bowe Ellis and Steve Kennebeck are the founders of Ziggy’s, a new froyo shop in Taos (Next to Taos Java) and approached me to see if STEMarts Lab could coordinate students to paint a mural for the shop. STEMarts Lab brings artists into schools through interdisciplinary collaborations that integrate art, science, and technology through social practice. For this project, we brought in artists, Jason Rodriguez and Aya Trevino of ARTAOS who had been exploring AR technology to work with the TISA kids. They worked with Ziggy’s owners to design the interior space of the new frozen yogurt store and engaged students in the process. Students helped to design and create an Augmented Reality (AR) mural that makes the whole space interactive. By pointing your smartphone or iPad at the painted mural on the walls, animated images pop off the wall for a fun and surreal 3D experience. The main star of the mural is Ziggy, the adorable pug of owner, Bowe Ellis. Yogurt will never be the same!


STEAM Lab@TISA ‘Design Thinking’ in Action

In line with TISA’s ‘Design Thinking‘ methodology, students were involved in all aspects of the production, from visiting the space and meeting the “clients”, to developing the concept, to designing the technology that creates an augmented reality experience for visitors.  Through this project students understand the impact that art, science, and technology can have in our society and our community. The AR Mural project aligns with Core Arts standards, 21st Century standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.
This project provided invaluable real world STEAM skills;

  • Business skills by working with a client to design a site specific installation (Site Visit, measurement, space planning, client communications)
  • Design and critical thinking skills to explore new approaches to image making, including designing stencils and laser cut vinyl patterns.
  • Project planning such as identifying design constraints (budget, materials, copyright, technology)
  • Learning cutting edge technology skills to create augmented reality experiences. (Define still image (trigger) criteria vs AR imagery (overlay)
  • Collaboration with UNM Digital Media facilitators, Peter Walker and Enrico Trujillo, and their art students to access advanced technologies to realize their ideas.i.e. 3-D animation and green screen video making.
  • Building of scale model of site to consider floor, ceiling, counters, safe zones, etc.

For year two of the AR Mural project, students will have the opportunity to become AR Technology teachers  to new students who will create changing animations for the mural. The STEAM Lab@TISA is all about teaching and modeling collaboration and in this spirit TISA will invite other schools in the community to participate providing a series of school exhibits of AR animations created by Taos county youth. Please contact us if interested.
This TISA project was made possible through a partnership with ARTAOS, Ziggy’s Yogurt Shop founders; Bowe Ellis and Steve Kennebeck, and a Paseo Project collaboration with UNM Digital Media Arts.

Augmented Reality for K-3rd graders!

TISA K-3rd grade teachers also got in on the action! Through a series of professional development sessions we trained the TISA teachers on how to use the Quiver app to delight their students with the magic of AR at an early age. Kids hacked the coloring pages to discover the trigger and overlays and then integrated them into paintings and sculptures to learn how to design with the virtual and real. The teachers shared what they learned at the Twirl Invent Event with an AR station of their own design.