Stars and STEM Stories
GLOBE Malta Students Engage in GLOBE Investigation to “Set the Example and Be Part of the Change”
GLOBE students reporting cloud cover and type during GLOBE investigation.
In December 2020, students from Gozo Middle School (Victoria, Gozo, Malta) collaborated with students from Turkey, Italy, and Spain – as well as people from the general public – to investigate marine litter with the goal of understanding its causes.
“During an outdoor classroom activity on one of Gozo’s sandy beaches, the students measured various weather elements, observed and reported cloud cover, and recorded sea water conditions (sea temperature, pH and water clarity). Using a digital microscope, they sampled sand for microplastics and carried out a litter survey,” Malta Deputy Coordinator Ramona Mercieca, and GLOBE teacher, said. “Their visit ended with a clean-up activity.” (To watch the video of this activity, click on photo below.)
“The data collected from the surveys and beach activity instigated the students to start their own investigation. Taking daily samples from two glass jars, one filled with sea water and the other filled with sea water with plastic litter added to it, the students tested the hypothesis” ‘Marine litter of which plastic affects sea water temperature and pH’,” Mercieca said. “Through the data collected it was concluded that plastic litter does have an effect on sea water temperature and sea water pH level.” (To read the research report, click here.)
Students sampling sand for microplastics using a digital microscope.
“This study contributed significantly to the importance of disposing of plastic in the correct way and reducing single-use plastic. In coastal areas there is the need to increase the number of bins, put up slogans and posters to create awareness of the dangers plastic is imposing on marine ecosystems and educate the general public on how to reduce plastic use. This is actually the reason why the students took the initiative and went a step further. They wanted to set the example and be part of the change.”
GLOBE student Neil M. explaining GLOBE investigations during the online event.
GLOBE teacher Ramona Mercieca introducing GLOBE investigation during the online event.
With a focus on that goal, Mercieca said that the students:
- interviewed the mayor of the locality where the outdoor activity was held and proposed the idea of making Hondoq Bay a plastic free beach;
- shared their findings on social media, the school Facebook page and news portals, and through an interview during a breakfast show on the national TV channel;
- adopted a loggerhead turtle;
- gave bamboo toothbrushes and stainless-steel straws to the whole school community as an action to combat plastic, and to provide ideas on how people can become more eco-friendly and take action to get closer to reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including SDG 14 (Life below water), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and production), and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities); and
- attended the release of their adopted turtle and explained their investigation and findings to the Minister for Gozo, the Minister for the Environment, as well as all of those present.
“This is what one of the judges commented after listening to GLOBE students from Gozo College Middle School present their work during the online event: ‘What a great presentation! You have kept focus throughout on your project, which is such an important part of life. You have given serious consideration of how to bring about change. I liked the in-depth study and comparison of plastic polluted/non polluted sea-water and your findings. You achieved regular media coverage through and your joint interview with Qala Mayor was excellent, particularly suggesting more bins and a completely plastic free bay at Hondoq, that would be a great achievement. A special well done for sponsoring two turtles! I hope future students will continue the valuable work you are doing now. Very well done.’”
Student Hannah V. presenting GLOBE research during turtle release event
“During the virtual event, Vincent Attard (Nature Trust-FEE Malta Executive President), Horace Laudi (Chief Officer Retail Banking at Bank of Valletta), and Dr. Elena Grech (Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta) were impressed by the amount of work and enthusiasm shown by the students, and thanked and congratulated them for their efforts and insistence to learn to live sustainably and help and guide adults to do the same in order to have a better world.”
“With the funds awarded, the GLOBE team chose to buy a Calitoo Sun Photometer, which will help them in their new investigation. The GLOBE Program was highlighted during the event, which will encourage further data collection from present and future students attending Gozo College Middle School,” Mercieca said.
This Star Story was submitted by GLOBE Deputy Country Coordinator of Malta, Ramona Mercieca.