NOTE: All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance, and masks are now optional but recommended. Learn more about how you can join us!

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #1 Winners Announced!
Nov 30

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #1 Winners Announced!

By Jennifer Torrance, Science Education Coordinator

Thank you to the many schools that submitted entries for Challenge #1!  This first challenge of the 2021-2022 school year was titled “Nature’s Sparkle and Shine.”


Middle school and high school students combined both writing and visual arts skills in their submissions. This project challenged students to create a set of three to ten iridescent creature sculptures made entirely from recycled, repurposed, and found materials.  The students then had to write short essays discussing the iridescent creatures they chose to sculpt and how iridescence occurs in nature. The students did an amazing job!  We were astounded by the creativity and pizzazz that students put into their sculptures. The essays that the students submitted were well-researched and thoughtful. Sculptures from this challenge are currently exhibited during our Winter Flower Show in the Gallery Room.


And the winners are:


Middle School Winners:

First: Dickson STEAM Academy; Addison Ebbit, Avee Farrer, Cora Spear, Lydia Brown, Eleanor Willson, Elijah Pittler, Chloe Mehalik, Luke DeVore, Noah Baverso, Levi Drake


Second: Avonworth Middle School; Izzy Pecosh, Eva Roedersheimer, Manal Shafiq, Grant Brosius, Megan Obersteiner; Ailin O’Neil, Nate Parker, Lyra Klinedinst, Alannah Pavlic, Phoebe MacKillop, Zoe Boyd, Sydney Langford, Tessa Burens, Grace Keller, Millie McAdams, Naina Mason, Ella Machen


Third: Trafford Middle School; Chloe Bishop, Benjamin Wei, Ava Ruane, Elsie Ley, Delaney Race, Jamison Kelly


Special Merit: Archangel Gabriel Catholic School; Lindsay Bressler, Ryan Bridge, Marco Buzzard, Aiden Curry, Christian Gill, Max Huet, Grant Karlik, Mark (MJ) Martella, Danica Naumen, Alex Smith, Natalie Turcios, Maria DelFiandra, Owen Ireland, Sydney Ligashesky, Olivia Schmitt, Betheny Shuagis, Lindsey Sperandeo, Anntonella Sueiras, Jack Turina, Piper White, Malley Woynar


Special Merit: Carson Middle School; Nathan May, Selin Emekter, Samantha Minton, Andrew Gwon, Lucy Hughes, Reid Hall



High School Winners:


First: Shaler Area High School; Jacob Cable, Luke Jones, Lindsey Caplan, Hailey Richards, Caty Clark, Rachel Scierka, Sammi Walker, Rebecca Schiavone, Anna Sheets, Riley Petrovich, Lauren Rudolph, Natalie Ondo, Alexandra Rall, Sophia Duty


Second: Penn Trafford High School; Talitha Brobst, Mark Harris, Kristina Heins, Emily Lenart, Kate Malley, Delena Steimer, Dakota Dandrea


Third: Mars Area High School; Claire Magness, Addi Girwood, Mira Ramanathan, Cece Crowley


Special Merit: Gateway High School; James Richmond


We would like to give a special shout out to our panelists: Heather Berkey and Cathy Bamrick (Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium), Verna and Bernie McGinley (Phipps Volunteers), and Braley Burke (Phipps Associate Director of IPM).  Thank you for lending us your time and expertise!


Have questions? Contact Jennifer Torrance at or 412/622-6915, ext. 3230.


Developed by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, Fl., and adopted by Phipps as a satellite partner in 2008, The Fairchild Challenge offers a menu of interdisciplinary challenges for grades K-5, 6-8 and  9-12, attracting students of diverse interests, abilities, talents and backgrounds. The Challenge empowers young people to engage in civic life and encourages them to become energetic and knowledgeable members of their communities.


Cover Sculpture by Mars Area High School students

Photographs taken by Phipps’ Research and Science Education staff.


Congratulations Dickson students! I love the iridescent materials!!!!

By Cathie Pearson on Dec 1, 2021

Amazing!  Love how creative and detailed these projects are!

By Emily Johns on Dec 4, 2021