Child's feet and ankles on shiny floor with brightly coloured lights on screen behind
Distortions in Spacetime by Marshmallow Laser Feast, Works of Nature, ACMI, 2023, image by Eugene Hyland

Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature science learning resource

Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature explores the connections between people, nature and the universe. The artworks in the exhibition portray a range of scientific systems and principles including: the ecology of trees, the human respiratory and cellular systems, and the physics of black holes. You can find out more in the teacher notes.

The exhibition offers students an ideal opportunity to apply scientific thinking and engage with big ideas in an immersive journey of discovery.

In this short resource, we suggest simple prompts, activities and resources to support each major artwork in the exhibition.

Subject: Science

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Curriculum areas: Years 5 and 6 Biological sciences

Years 7, 8, 9 & 10 Biological sciences; Earth and space sciences

Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature teacher notes

Sanctuary of the Unseen Forest

Plants and trees inhale our breath and use the power of sunlight to exhale the oxygen that fills our lungs and keeps us alive. Where does the body of the tree end and yours begin?

Marshmallow Laser Feast

This artwork visualises water and carbon flowing through the inner systems of a Ceiba Pentandra or Kapok tree filmed in the Amazon rainforest. Visitors gain a unique perspective on the process of photosynthesis as they watch the flow of nutrients through the tree and the conversion of carbon into oxygen.

You can also see the network of mycelium that helps plants grow and communicate.

Find out more about the science behind this work by watching the video below.

Dig Deeper

  1. Focus on a tree near you and use what you learned watching the Sanctuary of the Unseen Forest to create a visual representation of photosynthesis taking place in the tree you have chosen. If you need a reminder of what it looks like, you can view a section of the video here.
  2. Do your own photosynthesis experiment by planting three of the same seedlings and placing one in full sunlight, another in the shade and the other in darkness. What happens? Can you explain why?
  3. Kapok trees grow in the Amazon rainforest. Rainforests are often described as the lungs of the planet, and they are under threat. You can find out more about the magic of rainforests, the threat they face and potential for hope and action by visiting the rainforest alliance website. Make a poster that encourages ordinary people to make at least one small change in their everyday lives that will make a difference.
  4. What do you know about mycelium? Find out more here. Explain the underground connections formed by mycelium. Why are they important?
  5. Have you heard of a 'no-dig garden'? Did you know this method has been developed to protect the the mycelium which is damaged by digging the soil? Try creating your own no-dig garden and see if you have results as successful as Jude's shown here.


If you could explore yourself, you would discover that just below your skin you are a branching being made of currents and rivers, the world flows into you and you flow into the world.

Daisy Lafarge

Evolver heads inside the human body to explore oxygen, breath and the idea of connection. This multi-faceted experience begins with a meditation that slows the rhythm of visitors' breath before they engage with a series of videos and images that submerge them within the human body.

Journey of the Breath

Presented on two huge screens on either side of the gallery space, visitors are engulfed by the human respiratory system to follow the flow of oxygen as it travels through the lungs and heart to a single ‘breathing’ cell.

The Breathing Cell

This ceiling-mounted projection represents the path of oxygen processed within cells to become carbon dioxide before travelling back through the lungs and being exhaled with each breath.

The Tides Within Us

This series of six large-scale digital prints are representations of oxygen in the human body, printed on paper. They have been made through computer generation but are based on human body scans.

Bright burst of colour projected in dark space with silhouette of person in front of projection
Marshmallow Laser Feast

Dig Deeper

  1. Are you inspired by this journey into the human body following the path of the breaths you take? Why not continue learning by making your own model of the human lung following these instructions from Questacon.
  2. Now that you have journeyed inside the human body to see the way breath travels through our body, you can find out more about the science of this process here. As well as watching an explanatory animation, you can also do a quiz and even dig a bit deeper into the topic.
  3. In the works in this section, Marshmallow Laser Feast capture our imaginations by making very small things large. You can learn so much by getting up close to the smallest elements of the universe. Use a microscope to look more closely at: a drop of water, a leaf or some dirt. Try drawing what you see.

Distortions in Spacetime

What would it feel like to step into a black hole?

Marshmallow Laser Feast

MLF - young woman interacting with multicoloured digital screen

In this section, we move from the rhythm of the body to the rhythm of the universe but are reminded that we are part of this immensity.

In the featured artwork visitors not only see a collapsing star swallowed by a black hole, but can imagine themselves as part of this phenomenon. This is the strongest force in the universe, so strong that even light can’t escape from it.

The interactive element of the artwork helps visitors think about how black holes work. The beginning of the experience is fully interactive, and then as visitors begin to fall into the blackhole, the interaction becomes increasingly limited, because of the force of gravity.

Dig Deeper

  1. All of the artworks in this exhibition highlight connections between people and everything else. Did you know that people are made out of stardust? You can learn more about this here.
  2. Find out more about stars by doing your own research or taking a look at this helpful resource from NASA. There is a lot of information here. Choose one fact that you find interesting and try to represent this visually.
  3. Watch the video (above) or do your own research into black holes. Try to summarise in a couple of sentences what you have learned about black holes.
  4. Use what you have learned about black holes and supernovas to reflect on your experience of Distortions in Spacetime when you visited Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature. How well do you think the artwork communicated the science of black holes and supernova? Was your curiosity sparked by being able to interact with nebula? Do you think the slowing down of the interactive element of the work was an effective way to teach about the strength of the gravitational pull of a black hole? Explain your response.
  5. Now that you know all about black holes, you can test yourself with Museums Victoria's black holes quiz.

We Live in an Ocean of Air

These forests store more carbon from the atmosphere than any other forest ecosystem, and they support communities of life found nowhere else on Earth.

Save the redwoods

Linking up with Sanctuary of the Unseen Forest at the beginning of the exhibition, this final artwork features water and carbon flowing through the inner system of a Giant Redwood tree. Native to California, they are the largest trees living on earth and one of the largest living beings ever to have existed. They grow to an average height of 50–85 m. They transport more than a 1000 litres of water a day.

  1. Redwood trees are the largest trees on earth. As trees age, their ability to accumulate carbon increases. This website provides a carbon calculator where you can work out how much carbon a local tree you choose to focus on absorbs.
  2. Now take this test to find out about your carbon footprint.
  3. Trees keep people alive through the process of photosynthesis, taking in carbon and generating oxygen. Make a short film or animation that communicates this important fact to others.
  4. Create a multiple choice quiz to find out what your classmates know about about trees. Make it a mix between well-known and more surprising facts. (For instance, did you know that trees are made up of around 60 per cent water?)

Test your knowledge

Find out how much you have learned from Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature with this quick quiz. You'll need to download it and then complete it.

Quick quiz