More than 250 middle and high school teachers attended the 2013-14 Launch Brunch of the Fairchild Challenge on Aug. 24, the successful multidisciplinary STEM education competition which now reaches 130,000 students in South Florida at more than 260 schools from PreK-12.
“We are very excited this year to enhance Fairchild Challenge’s musical component by partnering with the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami,” said Amy Padolf, director of education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.“Their involvement will ensure that the musical program will be authentic and meaningful for students of all ages.”
Early in the program, the Fairchild Palms volunteer professional group, led by Chris Cakov, president, presented the Fairchild Challenge with a donation of $15,000 to help fund the challenges, programs and activities to be conducted throughout the new school year.
Teachers in attendance commended the Fairchild Palms for their donation and support. “Programs like the Fairchild Challenge take the classroom one step further into the real world, the kids look forward to it — and it’s fun,” said science teacher Pam Shlachtman from Palmetto High School, who has been involved with the Challenge since it started.
“The Challenge is very enriching for children,” said Cheryl Goodman, an art teacher at South Miami Middle School, a nine-year veteran of the Challenge. “Some of my students are not taught at home about the environment, so this opens up a new world for them especially when they take ownership of the ideas they are learning and look at things in a different way.”
The 2013-14 Fairchild Challenge curriculum provides teachers with additional professional development opportunities such as videos and tutorials online. Students will have the unique opportunity of studying in Fairchild Garden’s new state-of-the-art DiMare Science Village and Labs and be awarded scholarships extending their involvement from high school to the university level, all aimed at promoting research, life-long learning and nurturing a future career in the sciences.
This year’s exciting challenges celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden by incorporating the work of David Fairchild. Projects include cooking, cultural and career exploration, environmental debate, conservation plan development, citizen science, landscape design and rendering, creative writing, gardening, and — for the first time — a musical performance representing environmental awareness that includes time lapse videos and stories about ecosystems told through music and using both traditional and nontraditional instruments.
William Longo, a graduate teaching assistant from the Frost School of Music, will work closely with students on the musical component of the Fairchild Challenge.
“We are especially grateful to Frost School of Music Dean Shelly Berg for graciously partnering with us and offering the support of the school and its talented faculty and students,” Padolf added.
Now beginning its 12th year, the Fairchild Challenge has grown significantly since its inception in 2002 with a Global Competition component that includes Satellite Partner sites from California to Colombia.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Rd. in Coral Gables. For information call 305-667-1651 or visit www.fairchildgarden.org