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Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #2 Winners Announced!
Jan 06

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Challenge #2 Winners Announced!

By Jennifer Torrance, Science Education Coordinator

Thank you to the many schools that submitted entries for Challenge #2!  This challenge was titled “Plant Love Stories.” It was designed in partnership with the Plant Love Stories blog by the Smith Conservation Fellows, a group of conservation biologists who believe that everyone has a plant love story. 

Middle school and high school students were asked to pour their creativity and style into writing and visual arts pieces for this challenge! The Plant Love Stories project challenged students to tell us a story about a plant that has meaning to them or has impacted their lives in some way. These stories were shared in the form of prose or poetry and accompanied by an original photograph or piece of artwork depicting the plant. We were astounded by the many wonderful submissions we received! The students shared heartfelt stories about the plants that mean the most to them. The artwork and photographs that accompanied those stories painted a beautiful picture of how plants affect all of our lives. The term “biophilia” refers to human beings’ innate desire to connect with nature, and these projects clearly displayed biophilia at work. I hope you are as inspired by the winning entries as we were!

Click the orange buttons that say "View Work" under each section to read the winning stories.

And the winners are...

High School

First: Penn Trafford High School; Mark Harris, Kate Malley, Delena Steimer

Second: Shaler Area High School; Caty Clark, Rebecca Schiavone, Abby Guiste

Third: West Mifflin High School; Analise Lesutis, Frankie Stamerra

Special Merit: Central Catholic High School; John Dickinson; Greg Zagrocki, William Palko

View Work

Middle School

First (tied):

Carson Middle School; Reid Hall, Ellie Tang
Avonworth Middle School; Alannah Pavlic, Eva Roedersheimer

Second: Penn Middle School; Adithri Pingali, Caeley Simon, Ethan Goldsworthy

Third: Keystone Oaks Middle School; Sophiya Bhandari, Sydney Meagle

Special Merit:

North Hills Middle School; Adelaide Seigworth, Ellie Kim, Keelin McKiernan, Niamh Greer
Trafford Middle School; Addie McLaughlin, Delaney Race, Julianna Eshman

View Work

Elementary School

Judges’ Choice:

  • Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy; Charlotte Kovach, Brianna Smithwick
  • Tenth Street School; Adrienne Morgan, Riley Graham
  • Acmetonia Elementary School; Tony Pater-Griggle, Eric Walters, McKenna Puskar, Savannah Mastromonaco
  • Edgewood Elementary STEAM Academy; Leela Norman, Adelaide Scott
  • Wilkins Elementary STEAM Academy; Paul Everson

View Work

We would like to give a special shout out to our panelists: Sara Kuebbing and Bonnie McGill who are among the founders of Plant Love Stories; and PhD students Veronica Iriart and Rachel Reeb. Special thanks to Phipps Staff Emily Chierici for her help in this challenge. Thank you all 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.


Congratulations Edgewood, Turtle Creek, and Wilkins!!

By Cathie Pearson on Jan 14, 2022

Fantastic work, Analise and Frankie. Way to represent WMAHS! Good luck to all in the upcoming challenges.

By Kevin Squires on Jan 17, 2022

Hi Joana, thanks for reading! If you click on the orange buttons under each section that say “View Work” you should be able to see all of the winning masterpieces!

By Jennifer on Jan 19, 2022

Got it! Thank you so much, Jennifer.

By Joana Davidson on Jan 24, 2022

Hi Joel, thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoy the concept! If you click on the orange buttons under each section that say “View Work” you should be able to see all of the winning pieces!

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