Thursday, 1 September, 2022

Super botanists to the rescue; a tale of two tomato incidents; how dolphins set up their mates; and the man who paddled a pumpkin.



Tomatoes on a freeway:


La Tomatina tomato throwing festival:

Pumpkin paddling


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As storms threaten to smash every single state of Australia over the next couple of days, and a big ol’ rain front makes its way across the country, botanists in NSW are starting to worry that some species of native tree won’t survive another wet summer.

Hang on – what’s a botanist I hear you say? It’s someone who studies plants for a living. It’s totally a thing.

And why would the prospect of more rain be anything but a good thing for plants? 

Well – because some plants are used to thriving in relatively dry conditions. Including a plant called the native guana and the scrub turpentine – which are native to the North Coast of NSW. 

And the problem with another wet summer – thanks very much La Nina, i mean, enough already! – is that it’s another four months or so of wet AND warm conditions, which is great conditions for something called myrtle rust – which is a fungus that grows on plants and kills them – like the poor old native guana and scrub turpentine.

Which is why a bunch of super botanists from Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens have swung into action ahead of the forecast wet summer to look at ways of preserving up to 16 species of native plants that could be impacted by myrtle rust. 

Super botanists to the rescue!

Now if only they would come to my rescue … if reports are true that we;re in for another wet summer thanks to the third La Nina impacted summer in a row … I might just have to move to the Sahara Desert.  


Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops … and today we’ve landed in the United States – and in Spain – where it’s been a tale of tomatoes on both sides of the planet.

Starting with the United States, traffic backed up for miles on a freeway in California yesterday  after a truck carrying tonnes of tomatoes crashed and spilt its load – making a big red mess on the road – and causing a couple of cars to lose control.

Meanwhile, in Spain, tomatoes were being spilt on purpose yesterday in the tiny town of Bunol as the annual Tomatina festival took place. 

Tomatina is officially a festival celebrating the tomato harvest – which is to say: the region grows and exports lots of the delicious fruit (because yes, tomato is a fruit) and they like to celebrate that fact with a special festival each year.

And this one attracts thousands of people from all over the world – because it basically involves the world’s biggest food fight. Tonnes of tomatoes are dumped in the narrow streets and town square of Bunol and people throw them at one another. It’s quite a thing to behold. I know as I took part many years ago. I’ve stuck a link to video of both tomato events in today’s episode notes. 




This segment celebrates record setters … people or events that set new records … like the man in the United States who last week set a new Guinness World Record after paddling a giant pumpkin down a river. 

Yes, your ears are not playing tricks on you. I said, paddling a giant pumpkin down a river.

Duane Hansen grew a 384 kg pumpkin in his garden – which is a whopper – then hollowed it out and hopped into it, pushed himself off from a jetty on the Missouri River and paddled downstream for 61 kilometres.

And you know the one thing nuttier than all of that? That’s the fact that Duane broke the previous Guinness World Record for the same feat. Meaning, someone else had done it before him. But they only managed a 40 kilometre pumpkin paddle. So you know – Duane did 20 kilometres more of pumpkin paddling. 

Duane told local news reporters he’d – and I quote – ‘never been down the river in a pumpkin before’ … which, call me crazy, but that sounds like what we might otherwise all ‘stating the bleeding obvious’. 

And yes, of course I’ve stuck the video in today’s episode notes. Enjoy!




Just as it is in the human world, so it turns out to be in the dolphin world.

New research has revealed that male dolphins form very tight friendship groups and find girlfriends for their buddies. 

The study was undertaken by a bunch of scientists who have spent months hanging off boats off the coast of northern Western Australia, observing the behaviour of pods of dolphins. 

A pod is the collective noun for a group of dolphins – just like a herd is the collective noun for a bunch of cows. But I digress.

Turns out that male dolphins pick best friends from a young age, and later in life, when it comes time to find a girlfriend, they help their buddies out. 

Isn’t that nice? 

Did you know that dolphins have a similar sized brain to humans, relative to our respective body sizes? Meaning: in the animal kingdom, they’re one of the smartest going around.



A little message to all the teachers out there … Squiz Kids is excited to announce we’re hiring … if you are, or you know a primary school teacher who’d be a great fit for the Squiz Kids team – who would love the chance the help us create daily classroom resources and podcasts for our Squiz Kids for Schools program – who loves news, writes like a dream and wants flexible hours (meaning you can work in your PJs) alongside a super fun team – we’d love to hear from you. Throw your CV into some semblance of order and send us an email quicksticks at [email protected]

I’ve stuck the link in today’s episode notes …



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. In which country is the annual tomato throwing festival held?
  2. Which animals help their mates find a girlfriend?
  3. In what vegetable did an American man paddle down the Missouri River?




It’s September 1 … pinch and a punch for the first day of the month … does anyone do that anymore? It’s also Wattle Day around the nation – where landmarks and monuments everywhere are lit up in yellow.

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today …

Jimmy from Ceres, Henry from Toowoomba, Isla from Collaroy Plateau, Alistair from Balmain, Indigo from Petersham, Layla from Bathurst, Mitt from Chiang Mai in Thailand, Young-min from In-Cheon in South Korea and Amaia (pronounced Ah-maya) from Kowloon in Hong-Kong. 

And classroom shoutouts today go to …class 1RS and Mrs Shapland at Mooloolaba State School, Grade 6 and Mr Bock at Kidman Park Primary School, class 3D and Miss Diaz at Holsworthy Public School, class 6 Red from Revesby Public School and the year 5 students at Blakehurst Public School.

Special shoutouts go to …Ms Hodgson and her year 5 class at St Joseph’s School in Waroona and to Ms McPherson and her year 4/5 class at Dudley Public School – both became members of Squiz Kids for Schools on our special Term 4 promo. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Spain
  2. Dolphins
  3. Pumpkin