“Grow it, Taste it, Don’t Waste it!” school plant science competition winners announced

October 12, 2021

The winners of the Crawford Fund International Agricultural Science award were announced today as part of a virtual ceremony for the annual DAF Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition in Queensland.

The ceremony featured messages from the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner MP and DAF Deputy Director General, Bernadette Ditchfield, plus a live presentation from the Director of the Centre of Horticultural Science (the University of Queensland), Professor Neena Mitter, followed by a Q&A session.

With the theme, “Grow it, Taste it, Don’t Waste it” to celebrate the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables, the competition comprised several components – hands-on experiments, an art project and an outdoor game designed to help students discover and map insect, weed, plant disease and animal pest sightings and ultimately help protect life on our planet.

The Crawford Fund continued its long association with the competition, with the Fund’s Queensland Committee sponsoring the event for the ninth year. This ongoing involvement encourages a strong focus on international agricultural research by both organisers from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and students alike.

Stop Wasting Food poster by Pilton State School’s Year P-1 class

This year, for the first time, the competition was expanded to include primary school entries, so we would like to make special mention of the budding young international agricultural scientists from year 3/4 at the Rockhampton Grammar School who won the Year 3-6 category for their engaging video focussing on food wastage at their school, and Pilton State School’s Year P-1 class for their creative ‘stop food wastage’ poster.

Winning report by Michelle Springolo at Groves Christian College of Distance Education

A special congratulations to both high school winners Michelle Springolo and Thomas Johnson, for winning their categories for the second year running. Michelle, a Year 11 student from Groves Christian College of Distance Education was the winner of the year 10-12 category for her focus on global food wastage via a detailed report. The runners-up were two teams of Year 10 students from Centenary Heights Senior High School in Toowoomba – firstly Liviru Wanniarachchi, Sattar Nazari and Yeran Dassanayake, who focused on anaerobic digesters as a method to breakdown food waste and reduce harmful gases and Mali Dawson, Cassandra Matic and Katherine Tam investigating  vertical farming to reduce waste and provide food security.

Mali Dawson, Cassandra Matic and Katherine Tam from Centenary Heights Senior High School in Toowoomba investigated vertical farming.

In the years 7-9 category, Thomas, in year 9 at Faith Christian School of Distance Education focused on cool storage transportation systems to combat post-harvest food losses in Africa and runner-up Ruby Linton, year 7 from Home Hill State High School highlighted food wastage statistics via an interesting Infographic.

Over 110,000 students throughout Australia have participated in this competition and have gained a better understanding of topics like soil health, the paddock to plate process, photosynthesis, weeds, pests, and plant genetics. Students have also developed further skills in scientific method and understanding, report writing, mathematics, English, teamwork, communication, art, and technology.

All schools involved have been made aware of the Fund’s free project-based high school learning materials which aim to excite educators and students to the impact of work around global food and nutrition security and the broad range of career pathways to involvement.