The Gordon School has participated in the Fairchild Challenge for 10 years and we are currently working on our 11th year. The challenge empomcasses many academic areas including language arts, STEM and social studies. This allows for our students to engage in cross curricular activities and shows the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of Florida horticulture.
This year the challenge has pre-kindergarten to fifth graders competing for first place. About 120 schools throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties participate in the Fairchild Challenge. The submissions are completed throughout the school year. The first challenge, Educator Challenge, was completed by a staff member at the school. This year it represented a botanical rendition of a plant that David Fairchild added to the Florida landscape. This gave us the opportunity to teach the students about the history of many plants we encounter daily.
The first student challenge incorporated social studies, art and language arts. The students learned about the different Natural Communities throughout Florida and the different plants that live there. After researching these natural communities, they drew and colored trading cards and wrote about the plants’ unique features and characteristics. The submissions created by the students were detailed and accurate.
The second student challenge will allow students to use their imagination while applying their science knowledge. The students will learn about how astronauts live in space and the necessities for growing food on a spaceship. They are asked to design and draw a self sustaining garden in order for the astronauts to grow food on their ship while in space. This challenge is in collaboration with NASA. Scientists from NASA will look over all submissions and may choose a student design to test. The students who have their designs chosen by the scientists will have the opportunity to assist in the implementation. The Gordon School can’t wait to see the designs our students create!
The third student challenge is in collaboration with University of Miami (UM). Our students are assisting in the research conducted by UM. They are collecting data using scientific instruments to determine the impact of leaf size, shape, and color on the temperature of leaves. This data will help scientists understand and predict how global warming impacts plants. The students are going to complete data collection sheets and a science journal. These skills will be beneficial for their future academia.
The last student challenge is our favorite! The objective of building the school garden is to promote better nutrition while teaching students how to grow and maintain an edible garden. Students will work collaboratively to care for the garden and in doing so learn valuable teamwork skills. As students work to maintain the school garden they will encounter unforeseen challenges which will utilize problem-solving skills and develop their critical thinking. Additionally, students will learn about the dedication required to maintain a healthy and thriving garden. The Gordon School was awarded a grant through Fairchild to continue to build our garden. We look forward to enjoying the fruit of our labor.
The Fairchild Challenge empowers students to engage in their community through various subjects. The activities extend beyond STEM education and allows them to become informed citizens and inspire them to further their knowledge in the sciences as they continue their education.