Welcome to the middle school challenge page for Challenge 4 of the Fairchild Challenge! Read below to find challenge information, entry requirements, resources and more for the challenge.

Challenge 4: Fine Arts 

Title: Starry Gardens 

Due: Friday, February 16, 2024 by 5:00 PM

For indivduals or groups

Download the Challenge 4 Rubric 

Your Challenge:

Did you know that the sacred Brahma Kamal, a night-blooming flower from the Himalayas, blooms only once a year and is believed to bring luck to those who witness it? While most of us are fast asleep, there's a secret symphony of life and beauty unfolding. Night-blooming plants, also known as nocturnal bloomers, are a rare and enchanting group of flora that have evolved unique strategies to thrive under the light of the moon. These plants have adapted to the challenges of the night, revealing their vibrant blossoms when the sun is set. But why do they choose to bloom at night? It's a mystery we invite you to explore.

In this challenge, you'll delve into the world of night-blooming plants and their secrets. Discover how these botanical wonders have forged remarkable partnerships with their nocturnal pollinators. From moths and bats to specialized insects, night-blooming plants have developed an extraordinary array of adaptations to attract and secure their vital pollinators.

Your challenge is to pick a night-blooming plant from anywhere in the world that you find interesting and create artwork of it. It should be either 8.5” x 11” or 16” x 20” inches. Accompanying the artwork, you should submit a 500 word description of the night-blooming plant that you chose. Describe its unique characteristics, its structure and how that relates to its function, its habitat and its role in its ecosystem, the relationship it had/has with nocturnal pollinators, and why/how it has adapted to bloom in the night. Include a Works Cited of your resources. 

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

  • Challenge Entry Form
  • Original artwork of a night-blooming plant (Include the school name and the participating students’ names on the back of the artwork).
    • Artwork should be either 8.5” x 11” or 16” x 20”.
  • Typed description (500 words) of your chosen plant (including traits, relationships, habitat, and structure/function).
  • Works Cited with at least 2 sources.

Please deliver to:

ATTN: Research & Science Education Department
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
c/o The Fairchild Challenge Coordinator
One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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

  • Grade Six – Eight

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

    CC.3.5.6-8.B Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

    CC.3.5.6-8.D Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.

    CC.3.5.6-8.H Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.

    CC.3.5.6-8.I Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

    CC.3.5.6-8.J By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    C.3.6.6-8.C Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    CC.3.6.6-8.D With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

    CC.3.6.6-8.E Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

    CC.3.6.6-8.F Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

    CC.3.6.6-8.G Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

    CC.3.6.6-8.H Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research.

    CC.3.6.6-8.I Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    3.1.6.A1 Describe the similarities and differences of major physical characteristics in plants, animals, fungi, protists, and bacteria.

    3.1.6.A2 Describe how energy derived from the sun is used by plants to produce sugars (photosynthesis) and is transferred within a food chain from producers (plants) to consumers to decomposers.

    3.1.6.A5 Describe basic structures that plants and animals have that contribute to their ability to make or find food and reproduce.

    3.1.6.C1 Differentiate between instinctive and learned animal behaviors that relate to survival.

    4.4.6.A Explain how different plants and animals in the United States have specific growing requirements related to climate and soil conditions.

    3.1.7.A1 Describe the similarities and differences of physical characteristics in diverse organisms.

    3.1.7.A2 Describes how organisms obtain and use energy throughout their lives.

    3.1.7.B5 PATTERNS Compare and contrast observable patterns in the physical characteristics across families, strains and species.

    3.1.8.C1 Explain how reproductive success coupled with advantageous traits over many generations contributes to natural selection

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