Welcome to the elementary school challenge page for Challenge D of the Fairchild Challenge! Read below to find challenge information, entry requirements, resources and more for the challenge.

Challenge D: Adaption Sculptures 

Title: "Sea Creature Creations"

Due Date: Fri., March 22 by 5 p.m. 

Your Challenge:

As our oceans change, imagine the challenges that marine life faces, and what transformations they might undergo to better their chances of survival in the future. Consider how factors like temperature changes, ocean acidification, or the depletion of certain resources like food or shelter would impact different sea creatures’ ability to survive.

Your challenge is to design and create a 3D sculpture of your very own sea creature that you think will be able to adapt to the oceans evolving conditions! In your design, contemplate your sea creature’s physical features, behaviors, and unique characteristics that would give it the upper hand in its environment. Use your knowledge of real marine adaptations as inspiration and let your imagination fun wild as you invent a resilient and innovative sea creature that will withstand environmental change. Materials for the sculptures cannot be purchased new; they must be found at home/school, recycled, or purchased from a secondhand store – we highly recommend visiting the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse for a wide variety of sculpture-crafting materials! (Please do not use food or living materials). Along with each sculpture, please submit a photo of the designer(s) and a description. The description should include:

  • A bio for each designer (name, grade, school, and tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests)
  • Your inspiration(s) for the sculpture – such as the real-life organism(s) that inspired your design
  • The materials you used, where they came from and how you constructed the sea creature
  • Why are our oceans are changing, how these changes impact marine life, and what positive intervention is being done to limit said impact (1 – 2 sentences)

Select sculptures from this challenge will be featured in Phipps’ 2024 summer show – Under the Sea. Therefore, each sculpture MUST be original, and include a photo and description. A very limited number of well-made sculptures will be displayed.

Entry Requirements: Deliver to the high school programs coordinator at Phipps in person or via certified mail (electronic submission is not accepted):

  • Challenge Entry Form
  • An original sea creature sculpture created using found, recycled, or thrifted materials (NO LIVE PLANT MATERIAL OR GLITTER)
  • Sculptures should be creative, thoughtful, and COLORFUL!
  • Sculptures must be 3D, no smaller than 1ft. by 1ft. and no larger than 2ft. by 2ft.
  • Descriptions including designers’ bios, inspirations, materials and their source, and how it was constructed, and importance of ocean adaptations
  • Include the school name and the participating students’ names

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Fairchild Challenge c/o Alyssa Mulé
One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Resources: The following list of online resources may be used when preparing your entry:

  • Grades K – 1

    • 3.1.K.A5 Observe and describe structures and behaviors of a variety of common animals.
    • 3.1.K.B1 Observe and describe how young animals resemble their parents and other animals of the same kind.
    • 3.1.K.C3 CONSTANCY AND CHANGE Describe changes that occur as a result of climate.
    • 3.2.K.A3 Describe the way matter can change.
    • 3.2.K.B3 Describe how temperature can affect the body.
    • 3.2.K.B6 ENERGY Recognize that light from the sun is an important source of energy for living and nonliving systems and some source of energy is needed for all organisms to stay alive and grow.
    • 4.1.K.A Identify the similarities and differences of living and non-living things within the immediate and surrounding environment.
    • 4.1.K.D Observe and describe what happens to living things when needs are met.
    • 4.2.K.C Identify that there are living and nonliving components in an aquatic habitat.
    • 3.1.1.A2 Investigate the dependence of living things on the sun’s energy, water, food/nutrients, air, living space, and shelter.
    • 3.1.1.C3 CONSTANCY AND CHANGE Describe changes that occur as a result of habitat.
    • 3.3.1.A4 Identify and describe types of fresh and salt-water bodies (ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds).
    • 4.5.1.C Describe how pollution affects the health of a habitat.

  • Grades 2 – 3

    • 3.1.2.C2 Explain that living things can only survive if their needs are being met.
    • 3.1.2.C3 CONSTANCY AND CHANGE Describe some plants and animals that once lived on Earth, (e.g., dinosaurs) but cannot be found anymore. Compare them to now living things that resemble them in some way (e.g. lizards and birds).
    • 4.1.2.A Describe how a plant or an animal is dependent on living and nonliving things in an aquatic habitat.
    • 4.1.2.D Identify differences in living things (color, shape, size, etc.) and describe how adaptations are important for survival.
    • 4.1.2.E Identify how living things survive changes in their environment.
    • 4.2.2.C Identify and describe the basic needs of plants and animals in an aquatic ecosystem.
    • 4.4.2.C Examine life cycles of plants and animals in an aquatic habitat.
    • 4.5.2.C Identify how people can reduce pollution.
    • 3.1.3.A2 Describe the basic needs of living things and their dependence on light, food, air, water, and shelter.
    • 3.1.3.B5 PATTERNS Identify characteristics that appear in both parents and offspring.
    • 3.1.3.C2 Describe animal characteristics that are necessary for survival.
    • 3.1.3.C3 CONSTANCY AND CHANGE Recognize that fossils provide us with information about living things that inhabited the Earth long ago
    • 3.2.3.B3 Explore temperature changes that result from the addition or removal of heat.
    • 4.1.3.D Identify organisms that are dependent on one another in a given ecosystem.
      •  Define habitat and explain how a change in habitat affects an organism.
    • 4.1.3.E Identify changes in the environment over time.

  • Grades 4 – 5

    • 3.1.4.A5 Describe common functions living things share to help them function in a specific environment.
    • 3.1.4.B5 PATTERNS Identify observable patterns in the physical characteristics of plants or groups of animals.
    • 3.1.4.CI Identify different characteristics of plants and animals that help some populations survive and reproduce in greater numbers. Describe how environmental changes can cause extinction in plants and animals.
    • 3.1.4.C2 Describe plant and animal adaptations that are important to survival.
    • 3.1.4.C3 CONSTANCY AND CHANGE Compare fossils to one another and to currently living organisms according to their anatomical similarities and differences.
    • 4.1.4.D Explain how specific adaptations can help organisms survive in their environment.
    • 3.1.5.B1 Differentiate between inherited and acquired characteristics of plants and animals.
    • 3.1.5.C2 Give examples of how inherited characteristics (e.g., shape of beak, length of neck, location of eyes, shape of teeth) may change over time as adaptations to changes in the environment that enable organisms to survive.
    • 4.2.5.C Identify physical, chemical, and biological factors that affect water quality.