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Challenge 3: Invention Design

Title: "Enviro-Engineers"

Due: Fri., Jan. 14, 2022 by 5 p.m.

Download the Challenge 3 Rubric

Your Challenge:

Nature has been inspiring our inventions for hundreds of years! Take Velcro for example. Its inventor George de Mestral noticed burdock burrs sticking to his pants and dog’s fur. Looking closely at the burrs under a microscope, he realized that the seed was covered in tiny hooks that caught loops of fur and fabric. He used that inspiration to invent Velcro! Many inventions from airplanes to waterproof paints came into existence because someone was inspired by nature. Even the structure of the glass ceilings at Phipps Conservatory are inspired by the underside of a giant lilypad!

Your challenge is to design an invention that was inspired by nature! Create a blueprint of your own original design that clearly shows what your invention looks like and its purpose. Include labels for different parts of your invention and a scale for size. Write two to three paragraphs about how the invention’s design was inspired by something in nature, what your invention does and how it works. Feel free to research existing inventions for ideas!

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

  • Challenge Entry Form
  • Include the school name and the participating students’ names
  • Blueprint of an original nature-inspired invention
  • Typed essay (2 to 3 paragraphs) about the invention’s design, inspiration, and purpose
  • Schools may submit up to two entries for this challenge
  • 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


  • Grade Six – Eight

    • 3.4.7.B3 Describe how invention and innovation lead to changes in society and the creation of new needs and wants.

    • 3.4.7.C1 Describe how design, as a creative planning process, leads to useful products and systems.

    • 3.4.8.C3 Analyze how a multi-disciplinary (STEM) approach to problem solving will yield greater results.

    • 3.4.7.D2 Select and safely use appropriate tools, products and systems for specific tasks.

    • 3.4.6.A3 Explain how knowledge from other fields of study (STEM) integrate to create new technologies.

    • 3.4.6.B4 Demonstrate how new technologies are developed based on people’s needs, wants, values, and/ or interests.

    • 3.4.6.C1 Recognize that requirements for a design include such factors as the desired elements and features of a product or system or the limits that are placed on the design.

    • CC.3.5.6-8.A Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

    • 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.

    • .3.1.6.A9

      • Understand how theories are developed.

      • Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations and evaluate the appropriateness of questions.

      • Design and conduct a scientific investigation and understand that current scientific knowledge guides scientific investigations.

      • Describe relationships using inference and prediction.

      • Use appropriate tools and technologies to gather, analyze, and interpret data and understand that it enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.

      • Develop descriptions, explanations, and models using evidence and understand that these emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and are based on scientific principles, models, and theories.

      • Analyze alternative explanations and understanding that science advances through legitimate skepticism.

      • Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.

      • Understand that scientific investigations may result in new ideas for study, new methods, or procedures for an investigation or new technologies to improve data collection.

    •  3.1.8.A9
      • Compare and contrast scientific theories.
      • Know that both direct and indirect observations are used by scientists to study the natural world and universe.
      • Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations.
      • Formulate and revise explanations and models using logic and evidence.
      • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models.
      • Explain the importance of accuracy and precision in making valid measurements.
    • 9.1.8.A Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities. Visual Arts: • color • form/shape • line • space • texture • value Visual Arts: • balance • contrast • emphasis/focal point • movement/rhythm • proportion/scale • repetition • unity/harmony

      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. Visual Arts: • paint • draw • craft • sculpt • print • design for environment, communication, multi-media

  • Return to Middle School Challenge Page