06 May 2015

Fieldwork - Year 8 Integrated Science

 Carmen Attard - 8 Yellow

Field Work - Integrated Science

Earlier this month, on the 6th of May a group of thirty year eight students attending the Gozo College Middle School paid a visit to the Government Experimental Farm in Xewkija.  The aim was to carry out a science field work on site.

Six groups of five students took measurements of a-biotic factors in a field assigned using measuring instruments brought over from the school science laboratory. All measurements were recorded on a field work sheet provided. Measurements included the air and soil temperatures, wind strength and direction, soil pH and humidity, area of the field and others. Using quadrants and transects, the groups studied the populations of field organisms, vertebrate and invertebrate species, that inhabit the area.  This enabled the students to trace out the feeding relationships of organisms in their natural habitat.

After a half an hour break, the students were shown round citrus orchards where lemon, orange and grapefruit trees are cultivated. Fruit fly traps and traces of parasite attacks on leaves were closely examined. The endemic tree garden was also a site of much interest, giving the students the opportunity to make coverage of a good number of endemic trees and scrubs by taking photo shots of trees and recording their observations of local plant species. This included the task of picking out and rubbing leaves to show the leaf vein structure, size and shape. The students were able to see various types of trees including the Dwarf fan palm Il-Gummar, African Tamarisk Il-Bruka, Bay laurel, Judas Tree  Sigra ta’ Guda, Date Palm Sigra tat-Tamar, White Mulberry Cawsla, Black Mulberry Sigra Tat-Tut, Stone Pine  Znuber ta‘ l-Ikel, English oak Evergreen oak (Holm Oak) Sigra tal-Ballut, Bay Laurel  Ir-randa, Araar Tree /Sandarac Gum Tree L-Gharghar, Myrtle  Rihan, Lentisc, Mastic tree Deru, Aleppo Pine Iz-Znuber,  white poplar  Is-Sigra tal-Luq, lentisc and the Pomegranate   Rummiena. The students also had the chance to see a selection of Maltese endemic plants like the  Maltese Rock Centaury Widnet il-Bahar, Malta's National Plant. Maltese Everlasting Sempreviva t’Ghawdex , Maltese Hyoseris Zigland t’Ghawdex, Evergreen Honeysuckle Qarn il-moghza, Southern Dwarf Iris Bellus, Bushy Restharrow Bruxka ta’ Ghawdex, Mediterranean Buckthorn Alaternu  , Bean Trefoil Tree Fula tal-Klieb,  Shrubby Horsetail Efedra, African Wolfbane Sigret il- Harir, Mediterranean Thyme Saghtar, Maltese Cliff-orache Bjanka ta’ l-Irdum,  Jujube Zinzel and Maltese Cliff-orache Bjanka ta’ l-Irdum.   Each group was entrusted with the job of compiling the records of all their observations in a project of their own choice which would be later assessed, graded and credited as their work done.

Another place of interest were the green houses in which all sorts of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and melons are cultivated with the purpose of selecting the best suited variant for the Gozitan farmers to cultivate in their own fields. This ensures the maximum crop yield, free of diseases and resistant to drought. The automated irrigation system in which fertilizers are added to the water in huge tanks offered an interesting curiosity on how large scale farming is managed throughout the year.  Within the green houses, pollination is made by imported drones.  This prevents any cross pollination with alien crop species outside the green house.

One last venue of interest was the stables where fowls, goats and cows are reared for breeding purposes. The endemic Maltese cow and the Maltese cockerel are undergoing a thorough selective breeding program in the farm.   Exotic birds as well as local birds like plovers and taz-żebbuġ are retained in large enclosures where the birds are free to spread their wings to fly.

After taking a group photo, the students were given a sachet of seeds of indigenous tree species to grow in their backyard at home.

All in all, the visit was a great success, both educational and entertaining at the same time not only because everyone enjoyed it but also because of the hands on field work experience. 

From this experience I learned a lot about trees and animals.  It was a very interesting outing and I really had fun.

The school looks forward to including similar future visits in the school calendar next year.

Special thanks go to Mr. Joe Grech and Mr. Ronnie Farrugia for their hospitality and expert guided tour around the farm.

Carmen Attard
8 Yellow

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