The Fairchild Challenge for High Schools 

The 2015-2016 Fairchild Challenge for High Schools

Many people only think of plants as stationary objects, but botanists (plant scientists) know plants are always on the move.

Thousands of years ago, a group of sailors ventured eastward in fragile sailing canoes from Asia to colonize what is now Polynesia, an area covering over 16 million square miles of Pacific Ocean. The sailors carried bananas, coconuts, bamboo, and various other plants. With these “canoe plants”, they transformed desert islands into bountiful gardens of food, medicine, and beauty.

This year’s Fairchild Challenge is designed to help you explore the deep connections among plants, human civilization, and the environment. We invite you to imagine yourself as a Polynesian sailor of the past, or as an interplanetary space traveler of the future. Think about which plants you would carry with you on a voyage to a new and distant land. Which plants would you choose to sustain human lives into the future? We invite you to consider the question, “What’s in your canoe?”

Click the image to view/download booklet PDF

2015 High School Summer Interns' work published!

Congratulations to all High School Award Winners!
Click here for 2015-2016 Winners

Have questions on how the program works?  

Forms and Resources

Fairchild Challenge Workshops for Students and Teachers

Through The Fairchild Challenge, students and teachers have the opportunity to participate in many workshops at Fairchild.  For more information visit:

Have Questions or need more information, please contact us.
The Fairchild Challenge for High Schools: