Previous topics

Each year we choose a plant science/agricultural themed topic that is aligned with the Australian curriculum and we provide students with hands-on experiments and activities to carry out in the classroom.

The topic and experiments also relate to 'real-life' research projects and experiments carried out by scientists and staff at Hermitage Research Facility and/or the wider department.

Previous competition topics

Previous competition topics and instructions are available if you wish to use these resources at any time for classroom activities.

YearTopic Focus of study
2022Native FoodsStudents completed a range of experiments and activities to discover the role of agricultural science research and also of traditional, native foods and food production systems in sustaining people today and for the past 60,000 years.
2021 Grow it, Taste it, Don’t Waste it! Students completed a hands-on experimental investigation and other engaging activities (focussing on fruit and vegetables) to discover the role science and agriculture play in the sustainable production of nutritious and healthy food for the world’s people.
2020 Plant Health Students completed a hands-on experimental investigation and other engaging activities (focusing on the ‘Plant Health’ theme) to discover just how important protecting plant health is in sustaining life on Earth.
2019 Pest Invaders Students learnt about invasive pests through engaging experiments and activities including insect trapping, weed observations, infecting barley plants with netblotch disease and discovered the impact invasive and introduced pests have on the native environment and agricultural production.
2018 Game of drones Students had fun learning about the use of drones in agriculture including digital image analysis, drone coding and time-lapse photography using computer software programs and how these new technologies are likely to change age-old traditions such as farming.
2017 The Dirt on Soils Students were required to get their hands dirty with some interesting experiments and activities to learn all about the importance of healthy soils and the importance of this natural resource in providing healthy plants for our food and fibre needs.
2016 My Pulse Rules! In celebration of the International Year of Pulses, students were asked to perform a series of activities that show why the biology of pulse crops makes them as much an essential part of profitable, healthy, sustainable farming systems as they are part of a nutritious diet.
2015 No light…no life! Have fun with photosynthesis and perform a series of experiments that show what a plant needs to live, how plants defy gravity in their search for light, how plants react to different light wavelengths, discover that everything we eat comes from plants and that with no light…there's no life!
2014 Bug Attack! Examine the biology and habits of stored grain and other insect pests that are problematic to farmers, merchants, exporters and consumers involved in the food value chain.
2013 Food, farming and fungi Investigate the fascinating world of fungi and discover how this kingdom of organisms interacts with every stage of the agricultural food chain.
2012 What makes a weed a weed? Perform experiments and activities in order to study weeds and discover how they spread and affect agricultural systems and the environment
2011 Are you a gene genius? Perform experiments and activities to learn and understand the basics of genetics and how genetics is used in plant science
2010 Does climate impact crop growth? Perform a multi-environment trial growing soybean and millet plants in 2 varying locations at school to help discover how climate affects plant growth
2009 There's a grain in my food! Focussing on grain identification, germination, food processing, cooking and research into breakfast cereals
2008 Sums on seeding a super crop Germination test and plant populations using sorghum
2007 What's Bugging Your Grain? Focus on stored grain pests (pests in whole wheat and flour at varying temperatures)
2006 How Much Water Do Plants Use? Mungbean and sorghum (basic lysimeter experiments)
2005 Insects & Crops Mungbeans and the insects they attract
2004 Why Grow Hybrid Crops? Focus on sorghum (growth of hybrid plants v's parent plants)
2003 Healthy Soils…Healthy Plants Chickpeas (inoculated v's uninoculated chickpea seeds)
2002 Salinity…A Big Problem Chickpeas and barley (grown in various salt rates)
2001 Problem Plants…Are They Weeds? Weed identification at school
2000 Influence of Planting Depth on Seedling Emergence Ability of 6 cereal varieties to emerge from different planting depths
1999 Study the Effect of Netblotch Disease in Barley Barley (healthy barley v's diseased barley)
1998 How Does the Use of Fertiliser Influence Crop Growth? Chickpeas & barley (compare growth with various rates of fertiliser)
1997 Plant Science - Identification of Crops; Mystery - Uses of Crops in 1906; Glasshouse Technology Build a Glasshouse Model; Social Science/English - Life and Farming on the Downs in 1897