Fascination of Plants Day 2012 Roundup
The world celebrated Fascination of Plants Day for the first time on 18 May 2012. Events were run in plant research institutions and botanic gardens in 39 countries. The day was organised by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) to promote the importance of plants and plant science worldwide.
In Australia 14 institutions ran 22 events including a tour of the Aboriginal Garden at Monash University, plant experiments in the Q-lab at Questacon, a public lecture by Julian Cribb on global food security at the University of Queensland, and an online video competition. For a full list of events and a few photos see http://www.plantday12.eu/australia.htm
Radio interviews brought Fascination of Plants Day to Australians that couldn’t attend live events. ABC Brisbane interviewed Dr Paul Scott from the University of Queensland about why plants are so important in our daily lives. He went on to describe his research in developing biofuels from tree legumes. You can listen to the podcast here http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2012/05/world- fascination-of-plants-day.html
In SA, year 11 student Kathryn Law sang her song Plants are Fascinating on the SA Country Hour. Her song was the winning senior entry in the Fascination of Plants Day Video Competition run by the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. It was an adaptation of a pop song with original plant science lyrics including, “The leaves sunlight doesn’t miss, Will have photosynthesis, I wasn’t looking for this!”. The winning student in the junior category used an emotional Beethoven soundtrack for his video showing how he imagines a world without plants. His food and furniture disappeared, and the trees outside faded to black and white before vanishing. It was a poignant reminder of how important plant products are in our everyday lives. These winners were selected from about 40 entries in the Fascination of Plants Day Video Competition. One teacher said that the competition “helped students contextualise their knowledge of plants and combine their love of biology with talents in the arts”. Several plant themes came up in many of the videos. Many students introduced the science of photosynthesis and the importance of plants in producing oxygen in the atmosphere. Plants as food providers for people and animals, and the visual beauty of plants were also important to students. You can watch the videos at the videos tab of the completion website http://www.acpfg.com.au/videocomp/
Dr Monica Ogierman, the event co-ordinator, spoke at the Plant Biology Conference in Freiburg in August about Australia’s involvement in this event. She was invited to showcase photographs from our events and videos made by Australian high school students about why they find plants and plant science fascinating. ￼￼￼￼
Fascination of Plants Day will be run again in 2013, and we hope that earlier notice will allow even more Australian institutions to participate. Live or online events, articles, competitions, open days and public lectures held in the month around Fascination of Plants Day can all be registered as Australian events celebrating this day.
The Australian Fascination of Plants Day committee is Dr Monica Ogierman, Ms Alison Hay and Dr Arwen Cross. Many thanks to them for their efforts in making Australia’s contribution so successful.