Students from around the nation will explore plant health as part of the Schools Plant Science Competition to be staged in Warwick.
Students from around the nation will explore plant health as part of the Schools Plant Science Competition to be staged in Warwick.

Students put plant health under the microscope

STUDENTS are being encouraged to enter a national competition that focuses on how important protecting plant health is in sustaining life on earth.

Now in its 24th year, the Schools Plant Science Competition is being staged at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Hermitage Research Facility at Warwick.

Competition co-ordinator Kerrie Rubie said this year’s theme of ‘plant health’ recognises 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.

“Last year, more than 3600 students from 153 schools submitted 255 science and art entries,” Ms Rudie said.

“(This year) 82 schools from across the country have already registered to be part of the competition.

“Students will conduct hands-on experimental investigations, design mind maps with a plant health theme and communicate key constraints to the plant health of a field crop in a developing country.

“They will also be immersed in nature with the QuestaGame ‘Pest Invaders’ mobile gaming app to spot and identify pests that invade our precious plant life and interfere with agricultural production.

“And they will be in the running for a selection of fantastic awards and prizes too.”

Toowoomba-based Year 9 student Michelle Springolo, who was part of the competition last year, is now competing as one of 26 finalists at the 2020 BHP Billiton science and Engineering Awards, showcasing her project Pest Invaders – Will Companion Planting German Chamomile with Barley Crops or Spraying Barley Crops with German Chamomile Tea Help Prevent Net Blotch Disease?

A 2015 and 2016 competition entrant and winner, Joel Johnson, from the Faith Christian School of Distance Education in Rockhampton, is currently demonstrating his passion for agricultural science via a Master’s degree through the University of Central Queensland.

“Joel is researching non-invasive techniques for measuring bioactive compounds across a range of food crops, such as mungbeans, faba beans and chickpeas. I like to think we helped spark and foster that passion,” Ms Rubie said.

“Students with a flair for art can also enter the Art in AgRiculTure Awards, which combines the International Year of Plant Health with the National science Week theme for students.

“The National Science Week theme is ‘Deep Blue – innovations for the future of our oceans’ and students will be asked to depict how plant health (agricultural production) and healthy oceans can exist together in harmony.”

Hermitage Research Facility Schools Plant Science Competition entries close on June 26.

Winners will be announced on August 18 at the annual Awards Day and Agricultural Science Expo held at the Hermitage Research Facility in Warwick during National Science Week.

Hermitage Research Facility Schools Plant Science Competition activities are aligned to the Australian school curriculum each year, making it easy for teachers to incorporate the competition project into their learning programs.

Visit the website for more information about the competition or call 13 25 23.


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