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Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Purposeful Gardens
Apr 06

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Purposeful Gardens

By Emily Horner, Science Education Facilitator

Thank you to all the students who participated in the recent Fairchild Challenge, Purposeful Gardens! This challenge was completed by elementary, middle, and high school students. For this challenge, students were asked to create their very own garden! Gardens can have many purposes: they can provide a sense of community to citizens, a place for education, as well as a source of food for community members, and habitats for pollinators and local animals.

Students planned a purposeful garden based on a real or imagined location. Students then filled their gardens with different plants, keeping in mind the location, climate, and amount of sun their location will get. Lastly, students used their art skills to create hand drawn or electronically rendered versions of their gardens, accompanied by a written summary of their garden plan.

Thank you again to all of our students who submitted projects, and to the teachers and families who continue to support their students in all of their work! Please enjoy a selection of student projects below:  

Elementary School:

Burgettstown Area Elementary Center: My Healing Garden by Lucy Snatchko

Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy: Pollinator Paradise by Ascher Holleran

Middle School:

Freeport Area Middle School: School Educational Garden by Caty Deacon and Natalie Wallisch

Keystone Oaks Middle School: Our Purposeful Pollinator Garden by Abigail Purtill and Sydney Maegle

High School:

Norwin High School: Purposeful Garden by Gabriella Conley and Lily Jarosz

Penn Trafford High School: School Courtyard Enrichment Garden by Talitha Brobst

Have questions? Contact Emily Horner at

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 2 – 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 Photo © Abigail Purtill and Sydney Maegle, Keystone Oaks Middle School 


Love the variety of these gardens! So creative and thoughtful!

By EJ on Apr 7, 2021

Congratulations on these gardens.  The design and thought that went into these is evident, and I appreciate the mind set of people who look at the challenges we face and try to craft solutions.  Thank you!

By Cris Ruffolo on Apr 13, 2021

Well done Ascher! I’m so proud of you and all the students that created amazing, purposeful gardens!

By Cathie Pearson on Apr 13, 2021