The Million Orchid Project STEMLab

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Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden engaged the Design/Build Studio to transform an ADA-accessible, decommissioned, yellow school bus into a state-of-the-art mobile orchid propagation lab. The STEMLab was outfitted to visit middle schools across Miami-Dade County and bring the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum to life through the Orchid Project.

Dr. Martin Motes, client of the first Design/Build project and long-time affiliate of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden advised on the project. In addition to fully outfitting the bus as a mobile lab, all of the equipment removed from the bus during the renovation was repurposed or recycled. The result of this coordinated construction of cabinetry, carpentry and complex systems has set in motion partnerships with over 30 Miami-Dade Schools to grow one million orchids.

Outfitted with specialized laboratory equipment (including two laminar flow hoods, an autoclave, reverse osmosis water, photovoltaic power, a generator, a/c, refrigeration, laboratory plumbing, electricity and safety equipment), the STEMLab opened Fairchild’s 14th Annual Orchid Festival in March and in the Fall of 2016, began its journey to Miami-Dade middle schools where students plant and transplant orchid seeds in sterile con-ditions aboard the STEMLab, nurture orchid seedlings in mini botany labs housed in their classroom and collect and analyze the data. As the orchids grow, students will plant them in trees around their schools, where growth and ecological interactions can be monitored.


Client: Miami-Dade Public Schools / Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Students: Zachary Anderson, Luis Aragones, Ali Babowice, Nikita Chabra, Cristina Cusco, Priya Iyer, Gregory Lafaire, Tom Makowski, Timothy Nash, Tyler Nussbaum, Jon Russo, Jaime Segovia, Spencer Zimmerman

Faculty: Jim Adamson, Rocco Ceo, Austin Kane Matheson