September 22, 2014

Phipps Hosts “Teacher’s Night Out” for Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Teachers

by Melissa Harding

#2 Moon Area MS

Last week, Kate Borger, high school programs coordinator, hosted “Phipps for Teachers’ Night Out”, an informative social event to launch the 2014-2015 Fairchild Challenge at Phipps. The evening began with networking and refreshments, followed by a presentation detailing the slate of challenges for the new school year. At the program’s conclusion, teachers were free to enjoy the beauty of the Conservatory and new Center for Sustainable Landscapes building. The participating teachers had a wonderful time and a few new faces signed up for the program this coming year. Overall, it was a great success!

More about the Fairchild Challenge
Since 2008, Phipps has been a satellite partner for the Fairchild Challenge, a multidisciplinary, standards-based environmental education program designed and initiated by the Fairchild Tropical and Botanic Garden in Miami, Florida. The program fosters interest in the environment by encouraging teenagers to appreciate the need for conservation and biodiversity and take action through intra-mural challenges that hone important skills for creative expression and communication, including visual, literary and performing arts, research, and community action. In the 2013-2014 school year, more than 1,800 local students from 54 area high schools and middle schools participated in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps.

The above photo is a 2012 entry by Moon High School.

 

 

September 22, 2014

Welcome Reception for Dr. Emily Kalnicky, Our New Director of Science Education and Research

by Melissa Harding

Emily

Last week, Phipps held a reception honoring our new Director of Science Education and Research, Dr. Emily Kalnicky. Dr. Kalnicky spoke about her vision for expanding research at Phipps to a very excited audience of board trustees, committee members and scientists from the community.

Dr. Kalnicky brings to Phipps a wealth of qualifications, including a doctorate in ecology from Utah State University, a master’s in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and bachelor of science degrees in zoology, psychology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously an adjunct instructor for Project Dragonfly at Miami University of Ohio and education research manager at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, she is the recipient of several research grants, awards and scholarships from the universities she attended to support her work – most notably a five-year period of research on the connection between human and frog behavior in Hawaii.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Kalnicky to Phipps. We are excited to have her join our team!

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2014

Welcome, Dr. Emily A. Kalnicky!

by Melissa Harding

Emily

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce that Dr. Emily A. Kalnicky has joined the organization as its new director of science education and research. In a time of growth at the public garden with the addition of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes and an expanded emphasis on children’s nature-based education, as well as research aimed at exploring the bonds between humankind and the natural world, she will oversee all science education programs at Phipps; conduct original research while participating in collaborative research with universities and other organizations; oversee the Botany in Action research program; and build cutting-edge programming focused on using botanic gardens and other informal learning venues as platforms for imparting knowledge and inspiring behavior change, among other tasks.

Dr. Kalnicky’s interest and experience in science education and research began more than 15 years ago as a volunteer at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. She brings to Phipps a wealth of qualifications, including a doctorate in ecology from Utah State University, a master’s in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and bachelor of science degrees in zoology, psychology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working most recently as an adjunct instructor for Project Dragonfly at Miami University of Ohio, a bi-lingual substitute teacher for the Madison Metropolitan School District, and an education research manager at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, she is the recipient of several research grants, awards and scholarships from the universities she attended to support her work — most notably a five-year period of research on the connection between human and frog behavior in Hawaii.      Complimenting her professional and formal education accomplishments, Kalincky has also published work on her research in several scientific journals such as Forest Ecology and Management, the Journal of Zoo Biology and the Human Ecology Review. An experienced public speaker, she has presented her research to a variety of audiences as well, giving presentations at the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, Utah State University, 36th Annual Conference of the North American Association of Environmental Educators, 14thth International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology, Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, and other venues.

“At Phipps, we are raising the bar when it comes to children’s education — particularly when it comes to connecting them to nature and fostering an appreciation of science and the environment,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini. “We are very excited to have Emily on board and look forward to working with her on strengthening our existing programs and developing new ones; collaborating with her as she oversees our research programs; and facilitating her interest in conducting original and impactful research related to conservation psychology.”

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman

September 3, 2014

Amanda and Melissa Attend Portal to the Public Workshop in Seattle!

by Melissa Harding

DSC_3528-001

This week, Amanda Joy and Melissa Harding will be heading to Seattle, WA to attend a Portal to the Public Dissemination Workshop. Portal to the Public  was created to develop a model for informal science education sites to build programs that would allow for face-to-face interactions between scientists and public audiences. Instead of a prescriptive model, the guiding framework is a structured set of concepts designed to be flexible to suit the needs of any institution.  Goals of the Portal to the Public include supporting local adoption of the framework at each dissemination site, building a community of practice, and  increasing the ability of individual museum professionals to confidently design appropriate programs, partner with scientists, facilitate professional development, and execute public programs featuring scientists.

Melissa and Amanda will attend a three-day workshop that will take place at the Pacific Science Center, where teams from a variety of informal learning institutions will create plans to implement Portal to the Public at their institutions.

The above photo was taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

September 2, 2014

Biophilia: Pittsburgh, September 4 – “The Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Bringing Environmental Engagement to the Classroom”

by Melissa Harding

 DSC_0012

Biophilia: Pittsburgh

Thursday, September 4, 2014 – 5:30 p.m.
Free to attend – RSVP required.

Pittsburgh meeting will feature our own Kate Borger, high school program coordinator at Phipps Conservatory, who will introduce the discussion topic, “The Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Bringing Environmental Engagement to the Classroom.”

In the 2013 – 2014 school year, more than 1,800 local students from 54 area high schools and middle schools participated in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, a multidisciplinary competition program inviting high- and middle school students to engage with environmental issues. Guest speaker Kate Borger, who manages the Challenge, will discuss the program’s features in detail, examining the role of creative expression in environmental awareness programming and the use of the natural world as a context for learning.

About Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. The group meets monthly at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes classroom at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where, over delicious small-plate food and a happy-hour cash bar, a discipline or behavior will be identified — often by an expert guest speaker — and discussed among the participants in the interest of sharing ideas and identifying opportunities. Join the conversation!

RSVP by sending an email or signing up at the group’s Meetup page.

What is Biophilia?
The term “biophilia,” stemming from the Greek roots meaning “love of life,” was coined by the social psychologist Erich Fromm. It came into use in the 1980s when Harvard University biologist E.O. Wilson defined biophilia as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”

In the last twenty years, studies examining human attraction to nature have yielded convincing evidence that links interactions with nature with positive gains in productivity, increased healing rates, and even enhanced learning comprehension in a wide range of sectors.

Biophilia Pittsburgh

The top image was taken by Science Education and Research staff.

September 1, 2014

2014-2015 Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: The Challenges are Posted!

by Melissa Harding

Fairchild Challenge Phipps (5)

The 2014-2015 Fairchild Challenge at Phipps is ready to go! This year’s exciting challenges are, as always, a fun mix of art and science designed to get students thinking about real world issues. These challenges invite students to investigate and engage with some of the most controversial contemporary topics in environmental science and devise imaginative and effective responses. This multi-disciplinary, standards-based outreach program is designed to give students the opportunity to shine in their areas of interest; from singing a song to writing beautiful prose, every student has a talent that can be utilized in this program.

Some highlights from this year’s challenges include:

Reflective Essay: You Without Technology

Writing: Eco-Scientist Superhero Graphic Novel

Art: Plants and Their  Pollinators

Photography: People and Edible Plants

Sign up today for the chance to win up to $1,000 for your environmental science curriculum! Registration for teachers is open and completely free!

To learn more about the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, check out the blog.

If you are a teacher interested in participating in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, contact Kate Borger at  kborger@phipps.conservatory.org or (412)622-6915, x 3905.

The above photo was taken by Kate Borger.

August 28, 2014

Our New Field Trip Brochure is Here!

by Melissa Harding

Worms_7

Our new field trip brochure is hot off the presses. We are so excited to share our new programs with you!

Highlights for this year include our new tropical rainforest-themed program “Tropical Pursuit”, in which students play as pieces in a life-size board game as they learn about products that come from the rainforest. Additionally, we are offering a younger version of our popular “Habitats” program, in which students learn why plants are such important parts of a habitat. And, of course, we are offering many old favorites with new twists for the upcoming school year, such as “Stupendous Seeds” and “Worms: Our Composting Friends”.

Check out the brochure below to learn more. Click on the picture to enlarge and image.

Field Trip 2014-2015 Back

The above photo was taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

 

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