Welcome to the middle school challenge page for Challenge 5 of the Fairchild Challenge! Read below to find challenge information, entry requirements, resources and more for the challenge.

Challenge 5: Adaption Sculptures

Title: “Sea Creature Creations" 

For Individuals or Groups | Maximum points: 200

Due Date: Friday, March 22 by 5 p.m.

Download the Challenge 5 Rubric

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:

  • Grade Six – Eight

    • 3.1.6.A1 Describe the similarities and differences of major physical characteristics in plants, animals, fungi, protists, and bacteria.
    • 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.
    • 4.5.6.D Identify reasons why organisms become threatened, endangered, and extinct.
    • 3.1.7.A1 Describe the similarities and differences of physical characteristics in diverse organisms.
    • 3.1.7.A3 Explain why the life cycles of different organisms have varied lengths.
    • 3.1.7.B1 Explain how genetic instructions influence inherited traits. Identify Mendelian patterns of inheritance.
    • 3.1.7.B5 PATTERNS
      • Compare and contrast observable patterns in the physical characteristics across families, strains and species.
    • 3.1.7.C1 Describe how natural selection is an underlying factor in a population’s ability to adapt to changes.
    • 3.1.7.C2 Explain why the extinction of a species may occur when the environment changes.
      • Explain that mutations can alter a gene and are the original source of new variations in a population.
      • Identify evidence drawn from geology, fossils, and comparative anatomy that provides the basis for the theory of evolution.
    • 4.1.7.A Describe the relationships between biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem.
      • Compare and contrast different biomes and their characteristics
      • Describe symbiotic and predator/prey relationships
      • Explain mechanisms organisms use to adapt to their environment. 
    • 3.1.8.C1 Explain how reproductive success coupled with advantageous traits over many generations contributes to natural selection.
    • 4.1.8.D Use the theory of natural selection to examine the causes and consequences of extinction.

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