Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #1 Winners Announced!
Nov 17

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #1 Winners Announced!

By Alyssa Mulé, High School Programs Coordinator

Thank you to the many schools that submitted entries for Challenge #1!  This first challenge of the 2023-2024 school year was titled “Beetles and Blossoms.”

Elementary, middle 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 sculptures of beetles that are found in forests all over the world. Their ornaments were made entirely from recycled, repurposed, and found materials.  The students then had to write brief essays analyzing the impact of their chosen beetle on its forest habitat and detailing their needs to survive. The students did an incredible job!  We were astounded by the creativity, research, and thoughtful detail that students put into their sculptures. The essays that the students submitted were all unique and showed great dedication. Select sculptures from this challenge will be exhibited during our Winter Flower Show in the Gallery Room.

And the winners are:

High School

First: Shaler Area High School: Elise Williams, Grace Helbling, Aubrielle Costic, Abby Maher, Emma Cochran, Grace Grabowski, Elizabeth Dunlery, Allie Cieslak, Natalia Villella, Abby Tepshich, Allison Little

Second: Woodland Hills High School: Beckett Ciocco, Carmella DeVore, Lillian Divelbiss, Avee Farrar, Robert Felter, Annabel Johnson, Mackenna Matthews, Owen Reeder, Nathan Scott, Zoe Spear, Gretchen Van Deusen

Third: Mars Area High School: Mira Ramanathan, Addison Girdwood, Annelie Gustafsson, Cecelia Crowley, Katelyn McKee, Emma Bosteda, Jewelie Baker

Special Merit: Penn-Trafford High School: Amelia Haslam, Mya Malloy, Michael Harris, Marissa Fong, Ella Malloy, Delaney Race, Sydney Mularski, Maddie Garvish, Cienna Oien, Riley Joyce



Middle School

First: Archangel Gabriel: Eve Betten, Eva Crofford, Nico Domenico, Dean Douglass, Joseph Fiedler, Jadyn Hatherley, Andre Kolocouris, Danison Lee, Dominic Mattarochia, Jasmine Ponomaryova, Lily Reilly, Zachariah Sellman, Lucas Stragand, Isabel Stuckeman, Mario Thomas, Lizzie Tokarczyk, Wyatt Walsh, Annabelle Watson, Brylie Welsh, Emerson Witter, Jeremy Ye, Ava Ziemniak, Julia Zottola

Second: Avonworth Middle School: Lillian Duvall, Maura Dolan, Karthik Pillai, Kate Paulat, Trinity Klicker, Kara Yackoski, Kate Jeon, Sydney Piccolino, Max Paulat, Tyler Smith

Third: Dickson STEAM Academy: Austin Ansell, Max Balkey, Sam Pittler, Sam Peretti, Ryleigh Wagner, Brianna Smithwick, Amiyah Holeman, Samantha Burgh, Edolie Willett, Leela Norman, Charlotte Korach, Levi Drake, Eli Pittler, Cooper Morse, Emilee Bellows, Ellie Willson

Special Merit: Environmental Charter School: Rosana Moon


Elementary School Highlights! (Judges' Choice)

Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy (Woodland Hills STEAM Academy)

East Union Intermediate Center

Environmental Charter STEAM Intermediate

Like last year, we received an overwhelming number of entries for this challenge! Congratulations to the following schools for having one or more of your ornaments chosen to be displayed in the Winter Flower Show: Central Catholic High School, Gateway High School, Mars Area High School, Penn-Trafford High School, Shaler Area High School, The University School, West Mifflin Area High School, Woodland Hills High School, Archangel Gabriel, Avonworth Middle School, Blessed Trinity Academy, Carson Middle School, Delhuaty Middle School, Dickson STEAM Academy, Elizabeth Forward Middle School, Environmental Charter School, Ingomar Middle School, Keystone Oaks Middle School, Marshall Middle School, North Hills Middle School, Penn-Trafford Middle School, Pittsburgh Colfax K-8, Wilmington Area School District, Acmetonia Elementary, Asbury Elementary, Belle Valley Elementary, Curtisville Elementary, East Union Intermediate Center, Elderton Elementary, Environmental Charter STEAM Intermediate, Environmental Charter STEAM Primary, Gateway Elementary, Grandview Elementary, Queen of Angels Catholic School, Saint John II Elementary, Kennedy Catholic, Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy, Edgewood Elementary STEAM Academy, Wilkins Elementary STEAM Academy


We would like to give a special shout out to our panelists: Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas (Phipps' Research and Science Education Outreach Manager), Marina Pawlesh (Phipps Volunteer), Anne Hasset May (Phipps Volunteer), Rachel Reeb (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History), Lisa Schrott (Phipps Volunteer), Ethan Brady (Phipps' IPM), Emily Stedge (Education Program Manager at Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media), and Xiola Jensen (Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse). Thank you for lending us your time and expertise!


Have questions? Contact Alyssa Mulé at amule@phipps.conservatory.org, 412/622-6915, ext. 3905.


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.