Ecology of Nature : STEAM Youth Project


Exploring the ecology of nature through art and natural science methodologies. Taking an experimental approach this project combines a variety of creative methodologies with science based research techniques.

  • Developing skills of observation.
  • Enhancing knowledge of field based research.
  • Broaden our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.
  • Collectively examine the future of our local ecology at a time of concern for climate change.
  • Developing personal perspectives on what a sustainable future might look like.
  • Building Resilience by engaging with the experimental, and unpredictable process of combination art with natural science methodologies.

In February 2020, OTAKUS Youth Group (The Vault, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland) started a project with artist Ashleigh Downey and youth worker Angeline Pluck. Once a week meeting to examine the Ecology of Nature. Using STEAM as methodology, they combined art with natural science to explore natural ecology and how this ecology may relate to them, and their own lives.

STEAM EDUCATION : ‘an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding (participant) inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.’  

– Institute of Arts Integration and STEAM

STEM FOCUS : Examining the ecology of nature through natural science methodologies; disciplines include biology, botany, and the chemistry of natural dying, paint making and colour extraction.

ART FORM : Exploring the ecology of nature through creative and mindful actions; multi-disciplinary processes include drawing, painting, journaling and field note taking, collage, photography, flower pressing, natural dying, soundscaping and deep listening.

Then lockdown happened! Covid-19 put pause to project.

WhatsApp, WhatsApp, zoom, WhatsApp, zoom, zoom

Then in June 2020, with lockdown lifted, we had an opportunity to meet again.


Collective Yarnscaping

Information Gathering
How do we view our environment?
Take a stroll.
Find a place of interest, and stand in that spot.
Without moving your feet, see how many interesting images and viewpoints can you create using a camera phone.

Take at least 10 different photographs.

Gratitude : a sincere Thank You to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), who funded this project; STEAM in Youth Work Residency Grant Scheme. A project collaboration between Otakus Youth Group, artist Ashleigh Downey, and youth worker Angeline Pluck – East Wicklow Youth Service.

The STEAM in Youth Work Residency Scheme is designed to support youth workers and educators to deliver STEAM projects to young people. This grant scheme promotes innovative partnerships between youth groups and those working in STEAM. It supports projects jointly developed alongside young people, and that have a science dimension to their artistic practice, or visa versa. It also supports work in the area of STEAM communication.

Key Objectives include

  • Supporting collaborative STEAM-based projects that are meaningful for all involved, and that are co-created with young people playing a central role.
  • Inspire new ways of working and thinking that promote best practice in use of STEAM in youth work and provide both host organisation and the STEAM professional with new insights.
  • Build the capacity of the individuals and organisations involved to work in partnership.
  • Support a bottom-up approach that add value to STEAM in youth work training approaches by encouraging the wider application of skills gained, nurturing innovation and stimulating interest and debate in STEAM among wider local communities.Provide inspirational, experiential STEAM learning opportunities outside-of-school.