More than 5000 young minds buzzing with plant science ideas

Published Tuesday, 15 August, 2023 at 11:41 AM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

  • Winners in nationwide plant science competition announced
  • Future of plant science in good hands
  • More than 5000 entries from more than 170 schools

More than 5,000 budding young plant scientists turned their minds to the importance of bees in the food supply chain as part of this year’s Hermitage Research Facility Plant Science Competition.

Prep to Year 12 students from 176 schools across Australia were part of this year’s competition, and winners were announced at a special event at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Hermitage Research Facility today (August 15).

Competing in a range of categories, entrants experienced first-hand the important role bees play in the viability of agricultural and horticultural industries and in supporting our very survival on this planet.

Major science prizes for individuals were awarded to students from regions across the nation (see list of prize winners below).

The competition’s Art in Agriculture section saw students create incredible bee-themed artworks including pencil sketches, paintings, pottery, sewing and pictorial story books.

Students from Dodges Ferry Primary School in Tasmania won the top art prize of ‘Most Outstanding School’, with Warwick regional schools, Pilton State School and Glennie Heights State School receiving the runner-up and highly commended awards respectively for their beautiful creations.

A third component of the competition involved students from across the globe participating in a citizen science, biosecurity-themed adventure about the environment and the animals and organisms that invade plants.

The 2023 ‘Pest Invaders’ BioQuest attracted 33 teams with 6,068 sightings, 9,100 identifications and 1,564 species mapped, via a mobile gaming app. Player “The Owl Whisperer” from Miallo State School in far north Queensland was crowned the Overall BioQuest Champion.

The competition’s major sponsors include the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, QuestaGame, and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:

“The science and art entries in this year’s competition were exceptional and gave great hope for the future of science and agriculture,” Mr Furner said. 

“These aspiring young scientists have learned about the fascinating world of bees.

“Students were free to explore any area of interest in relation to bees or follow our pre-designed plant pollination experiment and submit a scientific report on their findings and research.

“It’s inspiring to see this level of enthusiasm for science and it bodes well for the future of our agricultural industries.”


Major science award prize winners:

Paul Johnston Memorial Senior Science Award 
Winner:  Mitchell Rowbotham, year 12, Harristown State High School, Toowoomba 
Runner-up:  Ruby Klein, year 10, Glasshouse Christian College 

Crawford Fund International Agricultural Science Award 
Ruby Klein, year 10, Glasshouse Christian College 
Yasmine Brockhurst, year 9, Brockhurst Homeschool 
Sebastian Sharples-Dawson, Dalby State School 

Jackson Isedale, Jacob Malvern and Angus Pursehouse, year 10, St Gregory’s College (NSW) 
Jordana Evans, year 7, Evans Homeschool 

QUT Most Outstanding Poster Awards 
Ruby Klein, year 10, Glasshouse Christian College 
Jordana Evans, year 8, Evans Homeschool 
Aliyah Evans, year 5, Evans Homeschool 
Ariel Evans, year 2, Evans Homeschool 

Ag Institute of Australia Junior Science Achievement Award 
Winner: Indigo Kaufmann, year 9, Woodleigh School (VIC) 
Runner-up:  Isabel Paynter, year 7, Scots PGC College, Warwick 

Joe Baker Outstanding Achievement Awards 
Aliyah Evans, year 5, Evans Homeschool 
Ariel Evans, year 2, Evans Homeschool 

John and Chris Purdie Young Science Investigator Award 
Winner:  Irene Skoubourdis, year 1, Skoubourdis Homeschool 
Runner-up:  Eve Stavrinou, year 2, Faith Christian School of Distance Education 

These Queensland schools were awarded various science, art and QuestaGame prizes: 

  • Harristown State High School 
  • Glasshouse Christian College 
  • Atherton State High School
  • Stuartholme School
  • Mareeba State High School
  • Scots PGC College Warwick
  • Evans Homeschool
  • Faith Christian School of Distance Education
  • Dalby State School
  • Kelvin Grove State College
  • Cambooya State School
  • Glennie Heights State School
  • Rockhampton Grammar School
  • Skoubourdishomeschool
  • Pilton State School
  • Bowenville State School
  • East Ayr State School
  • McDonald Homeschool
  • Coorparoo State School
  • Highfields State School
  • BrockhurstHomeschool
  • Kurwongbah State School
  • Home Hill State High School
  • Mt Gravatt State High School
  • Chancellor State College Secondary Campus
  • Miallo State School
  • Bentley Park College
  • South West Homeschoolers
  • Whitfield State School 

Prize winners from other states included: 

  • St Gregory’s College (NSW) 
  • Woodleigh School (VIC) 
  • Wudinna Area School (SA)
  • Timboon P-12 School (VIC) 
  • Barnier Public School (NSW) 
  • Dodges Ferry Primary School (TAS) 
  • Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College (Traeger) (NT) 
  • Coffs Harbour Christian Community School

For more information about the competition and the full list of winners, visit Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition ( or call 13 25 23.