(865) 637-5331

The Fairchild Challenge at Knoxville Zoo accomplishes these goals through a standards based, interdisciplinary environmental education program provided at NO COST to the local high schools.  The Fairchild  Challenge at Knoxville Zoo is comprised of a series of point earning projects in which local high school students participate.  Since it is designed as a competition, the overall goal is to accrue enough points by the end of the year to win the Fairchild Challenge Award.  

For first prize the school will win $1000 to be used on a green project of their choice.
Second place is $500 and Third Place is $250.

2013-2014's winners were Carter High School for First place winning $1000 and Second Place winner was
Hardin Valley Academy winning $500.

Requirements: Must be a Knox County High School (public or private), or grades 9-12 of an organized homeschool cooperative.

The Challenges are outlined below.

Challenge One:  ART - NATIVE SPECIES

The Challenge:

Students will closely examine a native species of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Students will either paint an artwork displaying the species in its native habitat with either a food it eats or a predator that eats it, or they can create a mask of the local species made of recycled materials. Masks should display the amazing adaptations of the species face be its eyes, ears, nose, teeth, whiskers, or other. Click here for entry form.


The Challenge:

Education is one of the most important factors in trying to solve environmental issues. Students will have the choice to do a 2 minute public service announcement on an environmental issue or a 5 minute documentary on an invasive species.

Public Service Announcements are almost like commercials that try to get their issue's point across in 2 minutes or less. Students will pick any environmental issue and film a Public Service Announcement to inform the world of this issue.

Documentaries are films that provide factual records or reports on a subject. Students will pick an invasive species, either found locally or affecting other countries, and film an informative 5 minute documentary on the species of choice. Click here for entry form.


The Challenge:

Citizen science involves volunteers collecting basic research data and submitting it to scientists for analysis. By having volunteers collect data, scientists can conduct research over a much larger area and for longer time periods. This allows scientists to see trends on a much larger scale, enabling them to study large scale events such as migration, changes to species distribution and the effects of climate change.

In this challenge, students will participate in a citizen science program and help gather data for a Citizen Science Project. Students may choose to help with Inaturalist.org, Project Noah, or the National Phenology Network. Students will collect data on one species of plant or animal and enter it into their chosen site.

For additional points, students may also choose to create a research project proposal that is based on a question developed by their observations. This paper must be between 500 - 1000 words and list the focus of the project (observation and related question), a hypothesis, the reasoning behind the hypothesis, and a proposal on how the students would test the hypothesis. Click here for entry form.


The Challenge:

In this challenge students will design an exhibit for North American River Otters or the critically endangered Andean Condor. Any new exhibit for any zoo or aquarium has many important pieces that all need equal attention. Students will have to design a space that can house two of the species they pick following the AZA accreditation requirements. But exhibits are not just for the animals. It also has to incorporate protective secondary indoor holding for the animals, zookeeper care areas, and an educational presentation for the public. Guests are an important aspect of all exhibits. Without the public support, zoos cold not afford to protect and care for there treasured species. Students should also think about what plants they can put in their exhibits for shade or animal entertainment. Click here for entry form.



The Challenge:

One of our plant's most iconic animals is the tiger. One hundred years ago, there were as many as 100,000 animals that lived in the swamps, forests, and tundra of Asia. However, as of 2010, there may be as few as 3,200 left in the wild.

This drastic decline has been attributed to several causes, including the loss of habitat, a changing climate, and human/animal conflict from living in the same area. However, the largest threat to tigers is from poaching. The claws, teeth, bones, and fur are all highly sought after in the illegal wildlife trade and are valuable items on the black market.

This crisis had led to debate in the scientific community where the focus is on how to reverse the trent. In this challenge students will join the debate by researching this issue and then proposing a solution. Students will write a 1,000 - 1,2000 work opinion piece in which they summarize the solution, examine the different proposals, propose their own solution, and explain why their solution is the best possible one. Click here for entry form.

Challenge Information


 Challenge 1

Challenge 2 Video

 Challenge 3    Citizen Science

Challenge 4 Exhibit Design

 Challenge 5 Debate

Due Date

 Oct. 24, 2014

by 5 p.m.

Nov. 21, 2014

by 5 p.m.

 Dec. 12, 2014

by 5 p.m.

 Jan. 30, 2015

by 5 p.m.

 Feb. 27, 2015

by 5 p.m.


 Number of Entries

 3 per medium

 3 per topic

 Maximum of 20 logs and 3 papers

 2 entries per school

 3 entries per school


 Number of Points

 A maximum of 300 points will be awarded for this challenge.  This amounts to 50 points per entry.

 A maximum of 900 points will be awarded for this challenge.  This amounts to 150 points per entry.

 A maximum of 920 points will be awarded for this challenge.  This amounts to a maximum of 31 points per log and 100 points per paper.

 A maximum of 1000 points will be awarded for this challenge.  This amounts to 500 points per entry.

 A maximum of 600 points will be awarded for this challenge.  This amounts to 200 points per paper.

 Entry Form

2014-15 Challenge I Entry
2014-15 Challenge II Entry 2014-15 Challenge III Entry 2014-15 Challenge IV Entry.doc 2014-15 Challenge V Entry

Scoring Rubric example:  Fairchild Scoring Rubric Example.doc


To register your school for Fairchild Challenge at Knoxville Zoo 2014-15, please fill out the Fairchild Challenge registration form before you turn in your first challenge entries Fairchild Registration Form 14-15.pdf  Please email the completed form to fairchildchallenge@knoxville-zoo.org or fax it to 1-(866)-647-4871.

For Additional Information:

Please feel free to email fairchildchallenge@knoxville-zoo.org or call (865) 637-5331 x331.