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Students Work to Improve Water Quality in Rijeka, Croatia

GLOBE teacher Dr. Tatjana Holjević is rightfully proud of her three students from the Medical High School in Rijeka, Croatia, who took third place in the 2013 GLOBE Student Research Exhibition. The students, Dina Bolkovac, Megi Pavletić and Pegi Pavletić, presented their project "Water Quality and Revitalization Potential of the Mrtvi Kanal Channel" at the GLOBE Annual Meeting. Their research investigation concerned the channel of stagnant water running through the heart of Rijeka and close to their school. Their ultimate aim was to understand why the water in the canal was so foul and to learn what could be done about it.

The students consulted local scientists, city and county officials, and other citizens to learn about the history of the canal. What they learned would directly impact how they might persuade city officials to consider a revitalization of the waterway.

Long ago, at the end of the 19th century, the one-kilometer-long Mrtvi Kanal was the part of Rječina River's course but water to the Mrtvi Kanal was diverted because of the floods that had occurred in that area. The only liquids flowing into the Mrtvi became chemicals from the paper factory and waste from the slaughterhouse along its banks. These businesses were closed some years ago but the thick waste that settled on the bottom of the channel caused an unpleasant smell that remains to this day, and the Kanal became known as the Mrtvi Kanal or "Dead Channel."

Megi Pavletić, Dina Bolkovac and Pegi Pavletić (shown above with Dr. Holjević),  were interested in investigating both the health risks and the negative effect on tourism that the Mrtvi Kanal presented. They also wanted to see the area along the channel revitalized for use by the local residents who would benefit most. Instead of a waterway that drew residents down to it, the Kanal had become a barrier dividing two sections of the city. The students imagined a waterway that could draw residents and tourists, building community and fostering economic development and an improved quality of life along its banks.

Mrtvi Kanal

The students conducted water quality studies at three locations on the Mrtvi Kanal and one on the Rječina River. They measured pH, electric conductivity, chloride concentration, and salinity at these locations. The students were surprised to learn that the "Dead Channel" wasn't dead at all! The difference in chloride concentration in the different locations actually demonstrated an underground water current – which means the water isn't stagnant. With this information, the students learned that it would be possible to open the waterways, which would help with the odor and would create a more pleasant atmosphere for businesses and potential tourism. Today, a few months after the Student Research Exhibition, the students are still committed to using their GLOBE research to make a positive impact in their community.

Medical High School in Rijeka

The students presented their research at the GLOBE Student Research Exhibition in August 2013 as part of the 17th GLOBE Annual Meeting. They thoroughly enjoyed The Student Research Exhibition because they got to know other young students who shared stores of their cultures, projects and lands. They enjoyed taking classes and talking to the scientists who encouraged their interest in science, and they were thrilled to be awarded 3rd place!

All three students are headed into careers in the medical field:

  • Dina hopes to become an sanitary engineer after finishing the medical college.
  • Megi dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon specializing in regenerative medicine. She is also interested in dermatology.
  • Pegi, the leader of the school`s 2013 GLOBE team, has become a pharmacy technician. She was astonished by the dedication of the International GLOBE Community at this year's meeting and aspires to be similarly energetic and useful to the cause of raising awareness of health and environmental issues.

Dr.  Holjević, accompanied by her daughter Ena, brought the students to the Student Research Exhibition in the USA. She, too, found common ground among the international gathering of students, teachers, Partners and Country Coordinators, scientists and notable speakers. "I wanted to become a GLOBE teacher because of it`s approach to learning, which is practical and it always involved in new ideas to widen the area of learning. GLOBE gives everyone the opportunity to build different research projects in which the students are actively participating and using practical and theoretical knowledge of science.'

According to Dr. Holjević, the hands-on GLOBE approach to science has resulted in more interested, independent and engaged students. "I love it," she writes. "It is perfect for the students in our school. GLOBE is a positive experience not just for me, but for the young generations, too."


So proud of you ladies. You have really inspired us to raise our collaboration research project to the next level!