25 May 2012

Students from Downlands College in Toowoomba have broken a 13-year old record to win UQ’s annual Sunflower Competition.

Weighing in at an impressive 3.483 kilograms, the Downlands entry was 473 grams heavier than the record set in 1999 and took out the “Heaviest Sunflower Prize”.

Previously the record was held by Dr Peter Kopittke, now a senior lecturer and researcher at The University of Queensland, who was present at the weigh-in to see his record tumble.

“While I am disappointed to see my record go, it’s terrific to see students passionate about growing plants,” he said.

Downlands agricultural science teacher, Dr Jeff Buchanan was delighted that his students’ hard work throughout the three month growing period had paid off.

“In 2011 we were first timers to competition and produced an entry of 1.656kg,” he said.

“A combination of a new greenhouse and adding carbon dioxide to our plant resulted in a sunflower of over twice the size.

“You can teach students in the classroom that plants need carbon dioxide to flourish, but for them, the science came alive when they saw their plants grow 50cm taller.”

As well as the overall heaviest sunflower award, Downlands also took out 1st and 2nd prizes in the year 8-10 division. Goondiwindi State High School was narrowly beaten to claim third prize.

In the senior schooling section, Marymount College from the Gold Coast took home 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a clean sweep.

Over 50 high schools from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia competed in the annual competition, with 250 students attending the “Weigh-In Day” at UQ’s Gatton campus.

Competition organiser, Karli Kollegger, said the aim of the Competition was to promote the study of plant science and the diverse science based careers available to young people in agriculture and plant industries.

The competition was sponsored by Pacific Seeds, Australian Sunflower Association, Grains Research Foundation (GRF), Ag Force, and the Queensland Agriculture Teachers Association.

2012 Results:
Category - Years 8, 9 &10

1st Downlands College (Group 2) - weight 3.483kg
2nd Downlands College (Group 1) - weight 2.542kg
3rd Goondiwindi SHS (Group 1) - weight 2.454kg

Category – Years 11&12

1st Marymount College (Group 2) - weight 2.980kg
2nd Marymount College (Group 3) - weight 2.898kg
3rd Marymount College (Group 1) - weight 2.777kg

Media: 07 5460 1346 or m.nevison@uq.edu.au
07 5460 1729 or k.kollegger@uq.edu.au