Longwood Gardens Announces 2023 STEAM Challenge Winners

fresh vegetables with artichokes, tomatoes and cabbage

Students from Upper Merion Middle School, Unionville High School, and Chester County Intermediate Unit, Migrant Education Program won the top three spots in Longwood Gardens’ STEAM challenge. In total, 165 students from 17 different schools and organizations formed 56 teams to compete in the challenge. 
The STEAM challenge is part of Longwood Gardens' Community Read program, which this year focused on the theme of food: its role as connector of people, and its relationship to the world of plants and gardening. Open to 6th–12th grade students, the STEAM Challenge invited students to keep the theme in mind to develop a food truck concept centered around a garden-grown ingredient to share their food stories.
Students developed models, created computer simulations, and presented their ideas via written and video content. Groups from public schools, private schools, charter schools, cyber schools, home school co-op groups and after-school groups (Scouts, Libraries, etc.) were invited to participate. 
Each of the 56 teams submitted an initial application consisting of a food truck design and 500-word description. The top 10 teams chosen by Longwood then created moving models of their food trucks and submitted five-minute videos detailing the story behind their concepts. 
“Encouraging young people to see how horticulture plays a role in everything from the food we eat to the connections we make with communities near and far is key,” said Sarah Cathcart, Vice President of Education at Longwood Gardens. “We are thrilled by the many wonderful and thoughtful concepts students proposed. I would like to congratulate all students on their creative and innovative work.” 
Monetary prizes were awarded to the top three teams to assist in greening their school grounds or local communities. Winning teams received $750, $500, and $250 prizes respectively to assist in greening their school grounds or local community.
Winners as follows: 
1st Place – The Cultured Charter from Upper Merion Middle School under the supervision of Jason Quenzer included students Anja Montich (8th grade), Dainty Pike (8th grade), Maya D'Alleva (8th grade), and Aaron McKnight (8th grade). The team was inspired by the global origins of foods and drinks to design their “Around the World” food truck. Design highlights included an electric-powered food truck with foldable vertical gardens, sustainable green energy stored in solar panels, and a colorful logo. The team plans to use their prize money to install a compost bin for students to use at lunch. 
2nd Place – The Green Lemons from Unionville High School and Patton Middle School under the supervision of Diana Tucker included students Brandon Hsu (7th grade), Eric Zhang (7th grade), Jeremy Hsu (10th grade), and Ivory Qi (10th grade). The team incorporated East Asian elements into its design and recipes for their food truck inspired by the universally loved tomato. The team plans to put their prize money toward implementing a school garden. 
3rd Place – The South Philly Falcons team from Chester County Intermediate Unit, Migrant Education Program under the supervision of Karisa Barlow and Kevin Chhin included students Saofily Hem (9th grade), Lekgny So (9th grade), Sambon Em (11th grade), and Suman Mongar (11th grade). Focusing on broccoli, the students designed a food truck that promotes a sense of community, plant-based recipes, and global connections. The team plans to use their prize money to enhance their school’s raised bed garden. 
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and grand conservatory. Longwood Gardens is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, bringing joy and inspiration to everyone through the beauty of nature, conservation, and learning. Open daily, Longwood is one of more than 30 gardens in the Philadelphia region known as America’s Garden Capital. For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org.