A tale of ten zones

SCP leader:                          Mr Saviour Tabone and Ms Marcelle Cassar

Participating school:      Gozo College, San Lawrenz Primary School

Students’ Age:                    5-8 years

Project time frame:          Project Year 1

  • Research question: What was the research question? What are the underlying regional problems?
  1. Why does temperature vary from one school building to another?
  2. What is causing the difference in temperature?
  3. How can we use this data to improve wellbeing in our community?

It was predicted that surfaces of different colours absorb heat at different rates (i.e. the darker the surface, the higher heat absorption). Other features that influence heat absorption include the material (e.g. soil, tarmac), the type of surface (whether it is flat or rough) and the surrounding conditions (whether in the shad, exposed to wind, weather conditions, etc.).

  • Approach: How did you proceed?

The research was adopted by the whole school community: students, teachers, ancillary staff and parents (although the latter’s participation had to be discontinued due to COVID-19 mitigation measures). This investigation was conducted using protocols provided by the GLOBE Programme.

Nine readings of surface temperature of ten different zones within the school on five days under different conditions. The ten different zones were: tarmac; shade; synthetic turf; even concrete surface; rough concrete surface; soil in direct sun; soil under the trees; soil in the shade; soil facing south direction; and soil facing north direction.

Once all the data was collected, the average value for the temperature of each zone for each day was calculated and compared.

  • Solution: What are your findings?

Naturally occurring materials help in keeping low temperatures when the ambient temperature is high, while keeping a relatively high temperature when the ambient temperature is low, thus, promoting ideal conditions for living things.

  • Recommendation: What solutions have you developed for the regional problem(s)?

The school plans to extend the research for the whole year to gather information about how the temperature varies with the seasons or the months. This would provide more accurate data to inform the Local Council about landscaping.

  • Dissemination: How did you promote your recommendations?

The research was shared on social media, school website and with the Local Council of San Lawrenz with the aim of influencing the choice of materials for landscaping of the village. It also submitted and received awards in the International Virtual Science Symposium organized by the GLOBE Programme.

  • Photos

Students taking temperature readings using a digital infrared thermometer