Science Village to Open December 1

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s state-of-the-art DiMare Science Village, covering more than 25,000 square feet and featuring five buildings including the The Clinton Family Conservatory’s Wings of the Tropics Exhibit, Glass House Café, Windows to the Tropics Conservatory, The Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion and the Kushlan Tropical Science Institute is scheduled to open on Saturday, December 1, 2012.

“The opening of the Butterfly Conservatory and Science Village brings together the fusion of nature’s magnificence and the enormous breadth of scientific research and technology available at our fingertips today,” said Dr. Carl Lewis, Director, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “Educating our children today about conservation science, the careers available to them, and the impact they can make, is absolutely critical in the 21st century and beyond.”

A canopy of native trees built into the architecture pre-construction, adorn the Conservatory’s exterior. Leading visitors through the Conservatory is a unique sidewalk path garnished with a variety of plant imprints courtesy of Fairchild Garden’s staff, volunteers and summer camp children. As guests enter the Butterfly Conservatory, volunteers will be on hand to offer information and welcome them into the Conservatory which is ADA accessible.

Creating a wonderland of nature, an outdoor screened enclosure arouses the senses with butterflies by the thousands, hummingbirds, palms and native trees wrapped with Fairchild Garden’s extensive collection of rare orchids, all alongside a tumbling stream that flows throughout the length of Conservatory. Upon entering, visitors encounter a Butterfly Metamorphosis lab where, through a glass wall, they can view butterfly pupae that are undergoing metamorphosis. Butterfly Conservatory staff can be viewed in the lab conducting research and observing the as the butterflies emerge.  Emerging butterflies will be released twice a day into the Conservatory as part of its interactive programming for guests.

Visitors may continue next into the Windows to the Tropics Conservatory, the Tropical Fruit Pavilion and the Tropical Science Institute named in honor of Dr. James A. Kushlan, a well-known South Florida biologist and wetland conservationist and sponsor of Fairchild‘s bird conservation initiative. Its overarching goal is to collect under one umbrella the science activities of the Garden and to facilitate coordination and increased cooperation among South Florida‘s scientists, conservationists, and educators engaged in tropical science, conservation and higher education.

The new Glass House Café, which is directly across from Fairchild Garden’s rainforest, is decorated with Dale Chilhuly’s eight-foot long ‘Clear and Gold’ glass chandelier and 40 foot high ceilings that peer into the Conservatory through floor to ceiling glass doors. The Café’s popular menu has been broadened to include organic and locally grown food, includes seating of up to 250 people and is available for private rentals.

The Science Village will showcase the talent and accomplishments of Fairchild’s conservation team by directly connecting scientists and their activities with the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Garden. Fairchild’s five-year vision is to support the science education initiatives with 10 Ph.D. scientists, 20 Ph.D. students and 40 undergraduate research students.  Fairchild has upheld strict environmental standards during the development phase, the result of which allows the Science Village to become LEED certified.  This new scientific hub marks the first time in 50 years that Fairchild‘s team of scientists will be working on-site with the opportunity to interact with students, visitors and the community. Since the 1960s, Fairchild‘s scientists worked from a separate facility one mile from the Garden.

Fostering a strong sense of pride in Miami’s environment, conservation science and community, the Science Village is equipped with the Dr. Jane Hsiao Laboratories -  four cutting edge educational labs including the Jason Vollmer Butterfly Metamorphosis Lab for pupae hatching, a Micro Propagation Lab for propagating rare orchids, palm, cycads and other endangered tropical plants; a DNA Lab for biodiversity and conservation studies; and a Microscopy and Imaging Lab which enables scientists to study plants and butterflies in minute detail in collaboration with the North American Chapter of American Butterfly Association.

Unique alliances for scientific study, the laboratories are installed with computer screens, Wi-Fi, and live webcams to facilitate lectures, and view the building’s interactive classrooms. The large-sized classrooms allow college and graduate students from Florida International University, the University of Miami and the University of Florida to extend their education.

“The new Science Village is the connection between science and the beauty of Fairchild Garden,” said Amy Padolf, Director of Education, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “By bringing children in through scientific research, we further strengthen the science education pipeline with the goal to get children to choose careers in the sciences.” The undergraduate and graduate course offerings taking place at the Science Village are building upon Fairchild’s existing environmental educational programs called the Fairchild Challenge, the highly successful multidisciplinary environmental education program for grades K-12.

About Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. Considered the greatest tropical botanic garden in the world, Fairchild exhibits some of the tropical world‘s rarest and most beautiful plants within the tapestry of an iconic landscape design. Fairchild is a one of the world‘s best science, conservation and education-based gardens and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. It has conservation programs in over 20 countries throughout the tropical world including the Indonesia, South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Fairchild’s palm and cycad collections are considered the best collections in the world and are nationally recognized by the American Public Gardens Association. It is also home to the American Orchid Society. The Fairchild Challenge is the largest science-based education program in the U.S. reaching more than 150,000 schoolchildren. Fairchild hosts popular events like the Chocolate, Mango, Orchid, Food and Garden, Ramble and Edible Garden Festivals, as well as an internationally acclaimed Art Program, Garden Music Festival, concerts, plant shows and sales, and evening events and is the cultural and community hub in South Florida. Fairchild is a not-for-profit organization with 45,000 members and over 1,200 volunteers. For additional information, visit us www.fairchildgarden.org and on Facebook and Twitter.