Archive for September 30th, 2013

September 30, 2013

High School Eco-Challenge Matches Teens with Scientists

by Melissa Harding

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Last week, 80 high school students from 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 to learn about sustainability over the course of three challenges. In the first they worked with Jeff Ritter, Associate Professor of Communication, Media and Technology at La Roche College to create and record “commercials” for living a more sustainable life. In the next, they took a scavenger hunt around the Conservatory with the help of our wonderful, volunteer docents to learn about the ecology of the landscape and greenhouses. Finally, students got the chance to work with our visiting Botany in Action Fellows, interviewing them and creating posters about their chosen Fellow. This challenge is always a favorite every year; students love meeting real scientists and are always affected by the passion and excitement that our Fellows exude when they talk about their work.

To see a sample of the posters created for our Fellows and more images from the morning, check out the slideshow below. Winning posters for each Fellow were displayed at their tables during “Meet the Scientists” on Saturday.

Winning posters were:
Upper St. Claire High School: Brian Kaplan and Morgan Cook
Brentwood High School: Brianna Pail, Greg Casey, Matt Benedik, and Drew Gross
Knoch High School: Nida Ripper, Aiden Neigh, Will Moryas, and Josh Crassi
Upper St. Claire High School: Zach Christiansen and Sriparna Sen
Moon Area High School: Dana Murray, Aashka Shan, Jessica Peng, Emily Padgett, and Beth Eberts

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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.

The above photos were taken by Science Education Staff and volunteer Pam Russell.

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