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!

Welcome to the middle school challenge page for Challenge 2 of the Fairchild Challenge! Read below to find challenge information, entry requirements, resources and more for the challenge.

Challenge 2: Art and Writing

Title: Plant Love Stories
For individuals or groups | Maximum points: 200
Due Date: Fri., Nov. 19, 2021 by 5 p.m.

Download challenge rubric here

Your Challenge:

Everyone has a plant love story: a story about a plant that shaped your life in some way. You may have a fond memory of harvesting from the garden with your grandmother or spotting brightly-colored flowers while you played in the woods. Maybe your plant love story involves kicking a soccer ball through a grassy field or eating watermelon on a hot day. Often we may not notice the plants around us, but plants play a role in many of our greatest memories! Plants affect us all uniquely, and the love we share for them brings us together. Your challenge is to think of a plant that has meaning to you, and write the story of how that plant has impacted your life. You may want to start by thinking of an important moment in your life and try to remember the plants in that memory. Use the art of good story-telling as you write; it should be creative and true! Your plant love story can be written as a short story or a poem. The story should fit on one page, typed with size 12 font and one-inch margins. In addition to your typed story, please submit either your own original photo or drawing of the plant.

You are encouraged to visit Plant Love Stories to read other people’s plant love stories and get ideas for your own! Select stories will be featured on the Plant Love Stories blog. Make sure to submit your entries to Phipps Conservatory, not the Plant Love Stories blog!

Entry Requirements:
Deliver to science education coordinator at Phipps in person, via certified mail or via email:

  • Challenge Entry Form
  • One typed short story or poem about a plant that has shaped your life or holds meaning to you. The story should fit one page typed with size 12 font and one-inch margins.
  • An art piece to go with the story in the form of an original photograph, a drawing, painting or other visual art piece.
  • Please include the school name and a list of the students involved in the project.
  • If mailing a copy to the Conservatory, please use the address below:


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

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


Read below to find the standards for each grade level for Challenge 2 of the High School Fairchild Challenge

  • Grade Six – Eight

    • CC.1.2.6.A: Determine the central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
    • CC.1.2.6.G: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
    • CC.1.2.6.J: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
    • CC.1.2.7.F: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in grade-level reading and content, including interpretation of figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
    • CC.1.2.7.J: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
    • CC.1.2.7.K: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade-level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies and tools.
    • CC.1.2.8.A: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
    • CC.1.3.6.E: Analyze how the structure of a text contributes to the development of theme, setting, and plot.
    • 9.1.8.A: Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities.
    • 9.1.8.B: Recognize, know, use and demonstrate a variety of appropriate arts elements and principles to produce, review and revise original works in the arts
    • 9.1.8.C: Identify and use comprehensive vocabulary within each of the arts forms.
    • 9.1.8.D: Demonstrate knowledge of at least two styles within each art form through performance or exhibition of unique works.
    • 9.1.8.E: Communicate a unifying theme or point of view through the production of works in the arts.

  • Return to Middle School Challenge Page