The pros are blown away by the graphic novels!


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The Challenge: to create a graphic novel based on the life and work of a notable environmental scientist-as-superhero.  We had two professional artist/cartoonists, one scientist and one environmental educator in to judge the Eco-scientist/Superhero Graphic Novels.  The panel was so impressed with the creativity, skill and effort that went into making these amazing fusions of information, inspiration and comic art.  Congratulations going out to all who dared to attempt this challenging task.  And here are the winners:

1st Place: Tess Christensen and Sebastian Immonen, North Allegheny Intermediate High School

2nd Place: Yesun Kaplan and Melody MacFarland, A. W. Beattie Career Center

3rd Place (tie): Maura Brennen, West Mifflin Area High School

Casey Hoel, North Allegheny Senior High School

Special Merit Awards:

Miciah Foster, Morgan McArdle-Shultz, Perry Rusen-Morohovich, Margaret Booth, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 “for Poetic Imagining”

Miranda Miller, Woodland Hills High School “for Future Cartoonist”

Justin Gilbert and Noah Lemley, West Greene Middle Senior High School “for Comic Style and Humor”

2 cartoonists and a scientist review the winning entries

2 cartoonists and a scientist review the winning entries


Environmental Action Challenge suggestions

If you’re not sure how to approach the final challenge of the year, the Environmental Action Challenge, you can find some suggestions here (or just look under the “About” column above).in good hands You’re certainly not limited to this list, but it might be a helpful place to start, and you’ll want to start thinking about this now even though it’s not due until May 1st.

MS Eco-Scientist Skit or Mini-Musical NOW due March 20

musical theaterDo we have a challenge for you!  Decide on a scientist who has dedicated his or her life’s work to an environmental issue, turn that scientist into a superhero and have him or her be the star of an original skit or mini-musical!    Challenge #4 is a great opportunity for the whole class to get involved.  For example, a “team of researchers” could choose the environmental scientist who will be the subject of the piece and get the facts down. A group of creative writers could come up with the scientist’s super power and write the script.  And then, of course, the performers – budding actors, singers (and dancers?) – can perform the 3 minute skit or mini-musical in front of a video camera (held by an aspiring filmmaker!).  This is your chance to show us what you got and teach the world the importance of scientists!  See MS Challenges in  Depth, Challenge #4 for requirements. Lights, camera, action…

Very challenging: High School Challenge #4 seeks the newest Superhero/Eco-Scientist

earthIt’s a bird…it’s a plane…NO!   It’s super climate scientist, making the world safe from the ravages of global warming!  But for real, there are  current scientists and past scientists who have dedicated their lives to saving the planet in one way or another.  Challenge #4 asks you to find out about one important environmental scientist (turned SUPERHERO) and create a short graphic novel about his or her life’s work.  This is a great challenge to do as a team, delegating research, writing and drawing to different people in your group.  We’ll have a couple of professional cartoonists and a scientist here to judge.  The deadline has been extended to Wednesday, February 25th.  See HS Challenges in Depth for detailed requirements.  Zap!! Pow!!! Go for it!!!

HS students create exquisite plant/pollinator drawings!

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The detail!  The beauty!  The competition!  It was intense and the judges, all botanical artists along with the assistant curator from the Hunt Botanical Library at CMU, were mightily impressed with the quality of the entries.  There were so many excellent depictions of plant and pollinator interactions that the judges chose six  drawings deserving of “Special Merit” awards,  in addition to the Top Three places.  Here are the winners:

1st Place: Lan Nhi Le, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

2nd Place: Nicole Karman, Hampton High School

3rd Place: Miranda Miller and Jessica Burch, Woodland Hills High School

Special Merit Awards:

Sophya Breedlove, Hampton High School for an amazing bee

Alayah Walker, Gateway High School for creativity and skill

Sydnie Wilson, Gateway High School for original view

Adrienne Abel, Shaler Area High School for exquisite detail

Brendan Donovan, Shaler Area High School for pen and ink artistry

Virgina Houck, Shaler Area High School for composition

Congratulations to all.  These drawings and others will be included in the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes gallery exhibit, coming in May and running through Summer 2015.  They will also be entered in a global competition being sponsored by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida.


Ring in the New Year with Plants and Pollinators

Northgate Honorable MentionFrom all of us here at Phipps, we hope your holidays were wonderful.  Now that January is here, we want to remind you that Challenge 3 is due soon (the deadline for high schools is January 16, and January 23 for middle schools)  Step 1: Research plants that live here in western Pennsylvania and choose one.  Step 2: Find out what little creature pollinates it. Step 3: Using colored pencils or a simple black pencil or ink, draw your best illustration of this plant and pollinator pair.   A panel of professional botanical artists will be judging your work, so be as accurate and artistic as you can.  (See Challenges in Depth for more specific requirements.) We can’t wait to see your drawings (some of which will be exhibited here at Phipps from May to August)!