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Who are the scientists of tomorrow?

Media release: 7 November 2008 

Primary school students from across the Australian Capital Territory presented ‘research projects' at the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity's (CRCNPB) Scientists of Tomorrow Summit last night.

Held at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, the Summit was the finale of the CRCNPB's Scientists of Tomorrow Program which has been run through ACT primary schools in 2008.

Throughout the year, 28 classes (Years 4, 5 and 6) from ten primary schools have participated in the program to learn about the importance of plant biosecurity and encourage enthusiasm for science in the classroom.

The children's plant biosecurity research projects were judged by a panel consisting of Biosecurity Australia's Principal Scientist, Dr Bill Roberts, the ABC's Surfing Scientist, Ruben Meerman and the CRCNPB's Chairman, Professor John Lovett and Education and Training Program Leader, Dr Kirsty Bayliss.

CRCNPB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Simon McKirdy said the judging panel and CRCNPB staff were amazed at the quality of research and innovative thinking the students demonstrated in their projects.

‘All students developed outstanding forward-thinking projects related to plant biosecurity which made the task of judging the best projects very difficult,' said Dr McKirdy.

‘They presented themselves and their projects as young professional scientists, and showed a fantastic ability to conduct research and think innovatively about science,' he said.

Dr McKirdy said the aim of CRCNPB's school education strategy is to foster enthusiasm for science in the younger generation, as well as create awareness of plant biosecurity.

‘The CRCNPB hopes to engage children at an early age so they become excited about science as a career option,' he said.

‘The energy and dedication shown by students at the summit demonstrates that science can be fun and these students are possibly Australia's ‘Scientists of Tomorrow'.

While the judges' scores were collated, children and families were entertained by the ABC's Surfing Scientist, Ruben Meerman who later announced Chapman Primary School as the overall winners for their remote control helicopter ‘spore trapping' project, ‘The Spore-acopter'.

Curtin Primary School took out second prize with their ‘remote microscopes' project and Burgmann Anglican School were awarded third prize for their campaign to ‘raise awareness' of plant biosecurity in the community.

The CRCNPB is the central coordinating body for plant biosecurity research across all Australian states and territories.