What’s the best way to save a critically endangered, native Florida orchid? Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden figures getting citizen scientists involved is a good start. That’s how the botany kids at Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy got involved.

Through Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project, they’re propagating and cultivating seedlings of Cryptopodium punctatum, the Cowhorn Orchid. There are fewer than 30 of these plants known to live in the wilds of South Florida. This puts the MAST students at the cutting edge of plant science.

“I think it’s exceptionally remarkable because our students are involved in a real life, authentic science experiment that has environmental impact on our local communities,” said Andrew Kearns, the teacher who has spearheaded the botany project.

Fairchild’s goal is to repopulate the Cowhorn’s into the wild. At Jose Marti MAST, they’re investigating every stage of growth, from what medium is the most optimal to which kind of light is the best for seedlings.

“So we’re actually doing a statistical study…