St Nicholas College students ranked top climate detectives by European Space Agency

Students from St Nicholas College analysed rainfall and temperature impacting water flow and farming in Qlejgħa Valley

Education Minister Owen Bonnici meet with the college principal, teachers and students on Tuesday
Education Minister Owen Bonnici meet with the college principal, teachers and students on Tuesday

Students from St Nicholas College have been classified amongst the best four Climate Detectives Teams in a project organised by the European Space Agency.

The students, from both middle and secondary school, explored the changes in climate mainly rainfall and temperature impacting water flow and farming in Qlejgħa Valley, in the limits of Rabat and Mtarfa and the impact of these changes on farming in the area.

Year nine students studying geography option also analysed rainfall and temperature data for the Maltese islands over the last 50 years. They also used satellite photos from Landsat 5 and Sentinel 2 to observe the surface area of the water in the valley. As well as carrying out fieldwork at Qlejgħa Valley during February 2020 to observe if there is any evidence that the level of water in the river was indeed higher in the past. 

The analysis found that rainfall seemed to be decreasing in spring, but heavy rainstorms were becoming more frequent in autumn. The temperature also seemed to be increasing. During the fieldwork, the students noted that the valley was almost completely dry but features typical of rivers were observed such as meanders that must have been formed during periods of higher water flow.

More than 450 students from around Europe participated in this project. Each team had to identify a local climate-related problem, collect data to investigate it and finally take action to address the problem.

Meeting with the college principal, teachers and students who were involved in the project, Education Minister Owen Bonnici said that a small change in lifestyle can in fact have a large impact on the problem of climate change if all were to follow suit.

"These students were able to raise more awareness on the subject by creating different promotional material to act as reminders for the students and they also created desktop images which were uploaded on all the school computers. I encourage more schools to follow suit by listening to the students and give them a helping hand when possible because, with their creative ideas, we can be able to make changes for the benefit of future generations,” Bonnici said.

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