Middle School Eco-Challenge Gets Students into Natural Beauty

by Melissa Harding


This morning 225 middle school students from over 25 local schools came to Phipps to participate in the Eco-Challenge, a multidisciplinary environmental outreach event co-run by Phipps and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3. Students worked in teams of four, learning about their “food carbon footprint”, creating beautiful mobiles out of plant materials, and going on a sustainability scavenger hunt through the Conservatory. The weather was beautiful and students had a great time working and learning both indoors and out. This was the second year the Eco-Challenge program has been offered to middle schools, bringing with it an incredible increase in attendance.

One of the most popular challenges involved using plant materials from Phipps to create beautiful mobiles. To see some of the gorgeous artwork that students made, check out the slideshow below!

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This event also serves as a kick-off for the Fairchild Challenge, a year-long environmental education program for both middle and high school students sponsored through the Fairchild Tropical and Botanic Gardens in Miami, Florida. In this multidisciplinary program, older students participate in a variety of sustainability-based “challenges” that focus on art, writing, music, and more. Schools choose to participate in one or all of seven challenges that take place over the course of the school year. At the end of the spring, monetary awards are given to the winning schools for use in their environmental science departments.

Tomorrow we welcome high school students to Phipps for their own Eco-Challenge for the fourth year in a row. It is a pleasure hosting these great kids every year and we are so excited to see the program grow!

The above photos were taken by Christie Lawry.

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