Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Fairchild Challenge? How do I get my school involved?
How can I get more booklets? I would like to participate. How do I get started?
How can I get more teachers involved at my school? How do I submit a Fairchild Challenge entry?
What happens to the challenge entries? Can we see the judges' evaluation sheets?
Can we see other schools scores? What is your goal?
How will I benefit from participating in The Fairchild Challenge? Does Fairchild pay for transportation for Challenge events?
Can we submit more than the maximum number of entries? Where should I send the forms?
Can I receive additional booklets to share with others? How can I stay informed about important events, deadlines
and other information for The Fairchild Challenge?
How do library drop-offs work? Do students need to fill out a photograph release form in order for their picure/work to be shown?
Questions about specific challenges?


What is The Fairchild Challenge?
Designed for students of diverse interests, abilities, talents and backgrounds, The Fairchild Challenge is Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's annual environmental education outreach program. With separate but parallel programs for students in grades Pre-K to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12, The Fairchild Challenge is composed of multidisciplinary competitions and activities aligned with State Academic Standards.

The Fairchild Challenge 'challenges' are intended to appeal to students through hands-on activities that encourage them to experiment with ideas, develop skills, seek information and voice opinions. This free program is open to all schools in the South Florida area. Last year, over 125,000 students and teachers from 263 elementary, middle and high schools participated. Gardens and other institutions as near as Central Florida and as far as Costa Rica have replicated The Fairchild Challenge model as our Fairchild Challenge Satellite Partners.

How do I get my school involved?
A team of Fairchild Challenge coordinators at your school (consisting of at least 2 teachers in diverse disciplines) submits one registration form. All administrators and faculty should be notified that your school is registered. Schools are encouraged to include as many students as possible in the various Challenge competitions and may accomplish this by entering any number of the challenges.

How can I get more booklets? 
The program booklets can be downloaded from our homepage.

I would like to participate. How do I get started?
Find out if your school is registered by viewing the updated lists found our homepage. If it is not yet registered, complete the elemantary school registration form or the middle and high school registration form for your school. Registered schools will receive an email confirmation within two days. Any student or teacher at a school is eligible to participate. We encourage four teachers from different disciplines and an administrator to sign the registration form. Teachers should coordinate the judging of the entries at their school in order to send the best entry.

How can I get more teachers involved at my school?
Fairchild Challenge staff are available to visit schools to introduce the program at faculty meetings or student assemblies. School faculty can also request additional copies of the booklet to give to other teachers or administrators and/or the link to our program video to show to other interested parties.

How do I submit a Fairchild Challenge entry?
Following the stated policies and requirements, teachers submit the best entries with a completed entry form downloaded from our homepage. Each entry form contains a checklist of required items for submission. The entry, with the completed challenge entry form, should be submitted through the method suggested on the entry form. There are three different possibilities, depending on the type of challenge: electronic submission, delivery to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden or Miami-Dade Public Library entry drop-off.

  • If it is a written paper, we urge you to submit it electronically to, or
  • If it is an art challenge or a research poster, you will need to bring it to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or by appointment. Weekends are possible, but require advance notice. 
  • All challenge entries (with the exception of the art and research poster challenges) can also be left at selected Miami-Dade Public Library drop-off sites. Entries can only be left at these particular branch libraries, and must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on the entry due date. Please check back during October 2013 for the list of participating libraries.

What happens to submitted challenge entries?
Each student entry is judged by a panel of experts at Fairchild according to predetermined evaluation criteria. The evaluation criteria can be downloaded from the Challenges-in-Depth webpages for elementary, middle or high school webpages. Scores are emailed to all teachers on each school's contact list. You will only receive your school's scores; we do not not disclose other schools' scores or standing in the competition. Along with your school's updated school score, you will be notified by e-mail of any awards earned by your school. Final results will be announced and prizes will be awarded at the awards ceremonies in May.

Can we see the judges' evaluation sheets?
Schools will be provided with their point value but the completed score sheets are not released after the judging panels. The template for the scoring sheets is available on The Fairchild Challenge website.

Can we see other schools scores?
Schools are provided with their individual scores throughout the year, but the competition standings are not released until the awards ceremonies in May.

What is your goal?
All schools that earn the designated point totals for each year will be presented with The Fairchild Challenge Award at the awards ceremony in May. Schools receiving The Fairchild Challenge Award for five or ten consecutive years will be honored as a Fairchild Challenge School of Excellence and will receive a banner for their school. 

How will I benefit from participating in The Fairchild Challenge?
The Fairchild Challenge is designed to increase student's environmental awareness, scholarship and stewardship. In order to encourage students to visit the garden with their family, all actively-participating students receive a four-person pass to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The sixteen top-scoring elementary, middle and high schools receive monetary awards of $250 (10 schools), $500 (5 schools), or $1,000 (1 school) to be used towards their environmental programs.

Fairchild also offers grants and resources throughout the school year for participating schools.

Does Fairchild pay for transportation for Fairchild Challenge events?
Fairchild will accept applications for transportation reimbursement from Title 1 schools for Fairchild Challenge events and/or field trips. 

Can we submit more than the maximum number of entries?
In order to make the program available to all schools, the number of entries that we can receive from each school is limited; therefore, we cannot accept additional entries. We encourage schools to host school events to help teachers and students determine the top entries to send to Fairchild for judging.

Where should I send the forms?
All completed forms must be mailed, faxed or delivered to:

FAIRCHILD CHALLENGE (Attention: Pre-K to 5, or 6 to 8, or 9 to12)
10901 Old Cutler Road,
Coral Gables, FL 33156-4296
Fax 305.400.0265

Can I receive additional booklets to share with others?
We are happy to mail additional booklets to you - the additional resources request form is available on the website.

How can I stay informed about important events, deadlines and other information for The Fairchild Challenge?
Fairchild Challenge staff maintains regular e-mail contact with participating teachers through a monthly e-newsletter. For this reason, we ask all of our teachers to keep us informed of your current e-mail address(es). This is especially important if you are taking a lead role in organizing your school's Fairchild Challenge activities. The monthly e-newsletter provides reminders and updates for deadlines, grant applications, workshops and other Fairchild Challenge related information. 

How do library drop-offs work?
Teachers can drop off entries at selected public libraries (please see individual challenges for submission restrictions as some entries may be too large in size for library drop-off sites).  Please contact Fairchild staff and inform them when and where entries where dropped off as to insure that it will be picked up on time.    

Do students need to fill out a photograph release form in order for their picure/work to be shown?
The Fairchild Challenge program policies state that by participating in the program, "Schools consent to Fairchild's unrestricted use of student work and participants' likeness, including photographs and our audio/visual recordings made of participants and/or their entries, at Fairchild or elsewhere. Fairchild must be notified in writing of any exceptions."

FAQ about 2013-2014 Challenges - MS/HS

  • Challenge 1 - 75th Anniversary
    Does a school have to submit entries for all three topics (A. Exploring, Explaining and Conserving Design, B. Plant Exploration Writing, C. Design Your Future Garden) in order to receive points? No, schools can submit entries for either only one topic, two topics, or all three.  Will only the "winners" from the art challenge be displayed at the Fairchild Challenge Art Show or will all the entries be hung? Every art entry from elementary, middle and high school will be hung for the art show, not just the winners?  Who is invited and how much does the art show cost?  Students, families, friends and teachers are invited to the art show and there is no charge to enter the Garden for that event.  Can we pick up our entries and take them home that night, from the art show?  No, you may not take the artwork home with you that night.  The entries will not have been judged by that time and need to remain with us to earn points for your school.
  • Challenge 1A - Exploring, Explaining and Conserving Design
    Is "Fairchild Challenge" and "75th anniversary' counted in the 15 word count maximum for a compelling message that accompanies each design? No, the 15 words or less message should focus on interpreting the mission of the Garden.
  • Challenge 1B - Plant Exploration Writing
    Does the captions for the descriptive graphics (MS) or supporting bibliographic references (HS) count for the maximum word count for the entries? No.
  • Challenge 1C - Design Your Future Garden
    Can students focus on a school garden or does it have to be a community garden?  Students can focus on their own school garden, but it would be preferred for students to research and focus a local botanic garden that serves a large community.
    Can the entry be computer-generated, plan drawings, photos or maps? No, the drawing should be a perspective hand-drawn entry.


  • Challenge 2 - Environmental Immersion Day (EID)
    Who can participate in EID?  This challenge is only for high school students.  Each school can select a maximum of 10 students to visit the Garden.  In order for schools to receive the maximum points alloted for this challenge, students must be active participants during the sessions and must submit a one-page essay addressing the specified questions under the entry requirements by essay due dates posted in the program booklet.


  • Challenge 3 -Sounds of Nature: Composition & Performance
    How many students can perform? There is a maximum of 10 students and one one teacher/administrator (optional for bonus points).
    Does the music have to be original?  Yes, students can also create lyrics for a song or other types of performances to accompany the acoustic composition.


  • Challenge 4 - Green Cuisine: Fairchild's Food & Garden
    Does the recipe students sumbit have to be original? Yes. Bring food already prepared and if refrigeration needed, bring a cooler to keep chilled. No cooking facilities.
    Can tofu and soy milk be used as a substitute for soy beans? Yes, since they are forms of soy.


  • Challenge 5 - Environmental Debates: Conservation
    Will there be a workshop associated with this challenge to help students prepare for the debate? Yes,  there will be a workshop on December 7th taught by Randall Martinez, University of Miami debate coach.  Contact the Challenge staff for more information.


  • Challenge 6 - Citizen Science: Be a Part of the Solution
    Can students submit the same board for the local Science Fair and for Fairchild? Yes, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Challenge 6 requirements are aligned to the project board guidelines of the South Florida Regional Science and Engineering Fair (SFRSEF).  For more information on the entry requirements, visit


  • Challenge 7 - Green Treasures: A Living History
    Does the newsletter have to be written in the language the interviews were conducted?
      No, middle schools must submit entry in English or provide translation of article if written in another language.
    Can students interview elders from their community?  Yes, middle school students can interview parents, grandparents, teachers and community members.


  • Challenge 8 - School Conservation Plan: Looking Back, Planning Forward
    Do the changes proposed by students in the conservation plan actually have to be implemented before entry submission? No, the entry is a proposed plan that can be implemented in the future on their schoolground.


  • Challenge 9 - Gardens and Green Spaces: Visit Via Video
    Are there grants available for schools to start gardens and green spaces? Yes, schools can submit a grant application by October 11 and grants of up to $250 will be awarded.  Grant recipients must plan to have FTBG staff visit their school and submit an entry for Challenge 9.  To dowload grant application, visit The Fairchild Challenge homepage.

Updated 09/09/2013