• Jan. 19, 2024

    Boyce students finish second in Fairchild Challenge

    Fairchild ChallengeA group Boyce Middle School students earned second place in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Sixth graders Somi Valancius, Rebecca Zahalsky, Sara Alhajhusain, YuRui Lin, Sarah Staub, Kenzie Petrick, Brayden Wong, and Praachi Sreeram competed in the middle school division of the Visual Arts & Writing Challenge – Harmony in Hues: Mural for Climate Justice.

    Led by gifted education teacher Sherri Garvey, the Boyce students were tasked with creating a model mural that represents a climate/environmental issue in their community, its impact and some solutions. The middle school students selected to focus on air pollution from vehicle and lawn emissions.

    “Lawn equipment emissions may not be the first thing one would think when considering the culprits of air pollution,” the Boyce students wrote. “However, gas-powered lawn equipment in Allegheny County generated more than 100,000 tons of air and climate pollution in 2020 – as much as more than 1 million cars. The analysis ranks the county among the worst in Pennsylvania and nationally in this category.”

    As proposed solutions, the students recommend converting to electric lawn equipment as well as updating Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Emissions and Inspection and Maintenance Program, which was last revised nearly 20 years ago.

    This marked the first year that Boyce students participated in the Fairchild Challenge.

    “All of the Fairchild Challenges involve learning about environmental science and demonstrating that knowledge through writing and art,” Mrs. Garvey said. “I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach to learning and the opportunity to combine art and science.”

    The students’ winning artwork will be on display throughout February in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes Gallery at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland.

    The Fairchild Challenge is a free, multidisciplinary, standards-based environmental education outreach program for high school, middle school and elementary school students. The Challenge invites students to investigate the thorniest environmental issues, devise imaginative and effective responses to these issues, and take action to address them. The Fairchild Challenge was designed and initiated by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida and adopted by Phipps as a satellite partner in 2008.