Colorful Conservation

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jay Arce

Orchid Lab Research Assistant

Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project volunteers are kicking off the New Year by producing over 1,000 containers worth of orchids for the upcoming Fairchild Challenge. This year the schools will be receiving containers filled with either Encyclia tampensis, the Florida Butterfly orchid or Bletia purpurea, the Pinepink orchid. The orchids that they will be given are growing in different mediums, each a color coded concoction we cooked up. Participants will monitor the vigor and survivorship of the orchids to help improve our protocol and project.

The beginning of the New Year brings the end of the first half of the 2015-2016 school year at BioTech. This year features both freshman and sophomore classes coming to their Fairchild classroom to come up with questions and quantify observations as well as connect with an experience and learn about conservation.


Freshman classes have been honing in their field skills. They have explored the palmetum to estimate tree height and measure DBH. They’ve been getting their feet wet learning to use various sensors to compare the conductivity, temperature, and pH of all the lakes at the garden. Students also learned an essential lesson on macronutrients by using potassium and nitrate sensors to compare levels in individuals. Freshmen were also able collect orchid seed pods and begin their work on orchid conservation back in their lab at school.




The BioTech lab isn’t the only one being used by the BioTech students. The sophomore classes are focusing on where the field meets the lab. Students have been monitoring the growth rates of Malabar spinach they planted under different conditions. They have also been collecting leaf, seed, and soil samples from the garden to bring back to the lab where they were able to take a closer look at transpiration, phytochemistry, and soil composition. Sophomores also had the opportunity to work in the labs in the science village, getting a peek at dark field microscopy with Dr. Brett Jestrow in the imaging lab and doing a “cool” plant DNA extraction activity in the DNA lab.