St Margaret College, Secondary School, Verdala  |  (+356) 25985400|smc.verdala.ss@ilearn.edu.mt

Young Reporters for the Environment students launch a litter-less project campaign in making Christmas cribs

On Friday, December 11, 2020, a group of Young Reporters for the Environment students at St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, Cospicua launched a litter-less project campaign in making Christmas cribs. Upon invitation from their teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent offered a power-point presentation to their classmates at school about the process of making Christmas cribs using only recycled material.

Student Isaac Zerafa said; “I have learnt the technique of making a Christmas crib from my family and it is not so difficult to make. The materials required are few. I only make use of recycled material and it takes me a few days to complete the work.”

YRE students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent explained that a Christmas crib can easily be constructed with Papier Mache’. To adopt this technique, newspapers are dipped and soaked in glue and then left to dry. When dry, the papier mache’ gets hard and can be painted quite easily. To make the glue, one needs to pour half a litre of water in a bucket and add to flour to it while constantly stirring with a wooden stick. One keeps adding flour to water until the mixture becomes creamy but not so thick. Finally, a cup of carpenter’s white glue is added to the mixture. Actually water and flour is good enough for the mixture but adding the carpenter’s white glue makes it stronger and will keep insects away from the crib when kept in storage.

 

Then one dips and soaks the newspaper strips in the mixture and while still wet, the excess glue is removed. Once put on a cardboard base and frame, the newspapers strips are twisted and wrinkled to form the cave; and the ground can be covered with additional strips to make it uneven like rocks. Additional strips will make the big cave and other minor caves on each side. At this stage one can make use of his imagination to make the Christmas crib very original.

Another easy technique to make Christmas cribs is by using polyurethane foam or ‘jablo’. One can easily find jablo from package material used for home appliances and other goods and then patiently start cutting the jablo into small cubes using a sharp knife or blade, being careful with the handling of the knife. Once the jablo cubes are ready, one can use imagination to create a crib on a wooden base. Glue is needed once again to stick the jablo cubes together and pieces of net cloth soaked in glue can be used to form the green moss of the cave.

When the papier mache’ or jablo crib is dried and hardened one can then start the painting process. To make the paint, pour two tablespoons of carpenter’s glue into a small container and add to it four tablespoons of water while stirring. Then add two tablespoons of coloured powder, preferably using yellow pigment, and the paint mixture should be a bit thick, enough to cover the papier mache’ or jablo crib. Use the paint to cover the whole project material and add to it some white chalk powder if necessary. Then allow the material to dry for a couple of hours. Meanwhile prepare some brown and green paint using the same adopted technique for the yellow colour. When the yellow coat is nearly dry, start painting the crevasses with brown colour and dab some green colour around the brown to make it look like rocky moss. Painting the proper colours to make the whole project look like a natural cave requires skill and imagination too.

Then when everything has completely dried out, one can apply a semi-matte coat of clear varnish to bring out the colours and make it more vivid. When it comes to the painting process of a jablo crib one can make use of acrylic paint instead which makes it easier to cover.

Teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, who coordinated this Litter-less Campaign school project said: “Our students were very eager to present this project as it was an opportunity for them to share their creativity and make other students aware of the need to be more environment-friendly in our decisions”.

Thanks to this litter-less school project campaign other students can make their own Christmas crib adopting the three R’s – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE – which all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away and learn to conserve natural resources and energy.

This project aims to reach three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, and Quality Education.

2021-05-01T12:41:07+00:00 May 1st, 2021|

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students learn about China’s earthquake-resistant buildings since antiquity

On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, a group of Form 3 (Year 9) CCP Science students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua participated in a school project learning about China’s earthquake- resistant buildings since antiquity. This project was coordinated by Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc and it was related to the Science study unit about Forces and Motion. Throughout this project students had the opportunity to watch a short documentary about how a structure built in the Forbidden City holds up to a simulated earthquake test. This science test can be watched in the following video:

 

Earthquakes are experienced in many parts of the world, but China had the world’s 10 deadliest earthquakes. China is susceptible to earthquakes due to the structure and position of the globe’s tectonic plates.

Earthquakes in China has always been taken seriously and 2500 years ago Chinese builders developed earthquake-resistant structures with interlocking flower-shaped brackets called ‘dougong’ that survive modern day shake tests.

It was during the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 B.C.) that China adopted the ‘dougong’ system in architecture to build temples and palaces. The ‘dougong’ system consists of a series of interlocking beams cut to precise measurements that, when compressed under the weight of the buildings’ heavy timber roofs, are strong enough to withstand earthquakes. By using a large number of pieces in the design, the weight is shared so individual elements are not prone to splitting or cracking. The pieces are fitted together without using nails or glue and require formidable skill and precision to make each timber piece.

What surprises European architects is that the system isn’t sunk into the ground with a foundation or footing but it floats, sitting lightly on the ground.

In 2008, China experienced a massive earthquake in the Sichuan province. It is estimated that over 69,000 people lost their lives in the earthquake and more than 300,000 people were injured. Since then, massive changes in regulations have been introduced to ensure that rebuilt buildings are able to withstand earthquakes and many Chinese architects are trying to imitate the old ‘dougong’ system when designing new building structures.

At the end of this project students discussed building sustainability and earthquake-resistant buildings in Malta.

Teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc and his students offer thanksgivings to the Malta China Cultural Centre and the Chinese Embassy in Malta for their continual help and support in fulfilling these school study projects.

This project aims to reach three of the main goals proposed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:  Good Health and Well-being, Life on Land, and Quality Education.

2021-05-01T12:06:26+00:00 May 1st, 2021|

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, CCP Science students learn about the healthy benefits of Dark Chocolate

On Wednesday February 24, 2021, Form 3 CCP Science students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua participated in a Science project about the healthy benefits of dark chocolate. In this Science project, students learned about the history and the production of dark chocolate. This project was organized by Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc and was related to the science study unit about mixtures.

The making of dark chocolate is quite a lengthy process which first involves the picking of ripe cacao beans from cacao trees. Then these cacao beans are cleaned and left to ferment for approximately nine days with the help of a yeast-based starter. The cacao beans are then put in wooden boxes or covered by banana leaves to develop their flavour. During this process the appropriate temperature, humidity and ventilation are necessary.

After fermentation, the cacao beans are left to dry and then roasted to acquire a dark brown colour and develop their flavour and aroma. Then the outer shell of the beans needs to be removed in order to get the inner beans called nibs. These nibs are then ground at high pressure to produce cocoa mass (chocolate liquor) and cocoa butter. Sugar is then mixed with cocoa mass and cocoa butter to produce a paste which needs to undergo a conching process.

The conching process involves rolling, rubbing and heating steps until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Chocolate will be smoother if the conching process is longer. Then a stabiliser (like soy lecithin) and additional flavours (like sea salt or vanilla) are added to the mixture. Finally comes the tempering process whereby the chocolate mixture is poured into moulds to cool and turn solid.

Dark chocolate should contain at least 75% cocoa chocolate, as the larger the cocoa percentage, the greater the health benefits. Flavoured dark chocolate is likely to contain more sugar and salt and so it is better to opt for plain dark chocolate to attain more health benefits. Consuming 20g of dark chocolate (two large squares or six small pieces) a day offers many health benefits but a balanced diet is always recommended, as dark chocolate contains saturated fat and sugar.

One of the benefits of dark chocolate is that it is rich in antioxidants and flavanols. The health benefit of flavanols is that they help our body to improve the cells that line the insides of our blood vessels and so reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other studies show that flavanols in dark chocolate offer some type of neuro-protective benefits and prevention from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Flavanols also have an anti-inflammatory effect which prevents inflammatory bowel disease; they can also protect our skin from sun damage because flavanols improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

 

Another health benefit of dark chocolate is the fact that cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine which can improve and stimulate the brain function.

At the end of this research science project, participating students discussed the issue of fair-trade in the production of dark chocolate as some workers involved in this market (especially in African countries) are exploited. After the discussion students enjoyed the tasting of a piece of dark chocolate with 75% cocoa.

This project aims to reach three of the main goals proposed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:  Good Health and Well-being, Life on Land, and Quality Education.

2021-05-01T08:50:47+00:00 May 1st, 2021|

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, CCP Science students learn about filtration and how to make a water filter at home as part of their Science practicum

On Wednesday February 3, 2021, Form 3 CCP Science students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua learned about the process of filtration and how to make a water filter at home as part of their Science practicum. This Science task was related to their Science study unit about Filtration and Separating Mixtures.

After learning the science concept of solubility and insolubility, students were given the task of learning how to separate sand from water through a simple filtration experiment. Then students were encouraged to build a simple water filter at home as part of the ‘Saving the Drop Campaign’. It doesn’t take long to build a simple water filter at home and students were encouraged to opt for recycling material in this science task.

To build a water filter at home one needs the following materials: plastic bottle, tall drinking glass, small stones or gravel, clean sand, activated charcoal, cotton balls or cloth and scissors or knife.

Then one has to follow some simple steps to build a basic water filter. First, one cuts the bottom of the plastic bottle using scissors or knife and place it upside down into the tall drinking glass. The first thing to put inside the plastic bottle is cotton balls or cloth, making a two inch thick layer. Then one adds an inch of activated charcoal as the second layer on top of the cotton layer. As third layer, one adds about two inches of small stones or gravel and then as fourth layer, another four inches of clean sand on top of the gravel. The final layer should be another layer of gravel while leaving a half-inch space from the top of the upside down bottle. Then first tests can be done by pouring some muddy water in the water filter and observing the filtered water dripping down clean into the glass below. It is important to avoid drinking the filtered water unless it is boiled.

For this experiment, students were instructed to test the water before and after the filtration process. Several water filters can also be made using different materials to observe which materials better filter muddy or dirty water into clean water.

The materials used to build a water filter at home can easily be found and it is very important that recycled material is used for this science project. Instead of cotton balls or cloth, a coffee filter can be used and instead of gravel, small pebbles would do just as well.

Each layer of the water filter has a purpose. Large sediments (like leaves or insects) in water are filtered while going through the small stones or gravel, whereas fine impurities are removed by the sand layer. Finally, contaminants and other impurities are removed by the activated charcoal through chemical absorption.

Senior Science teacher, Martin Azzopardi sdc (who supervised this experiment) said: “Teaching Science students how to build a water filter at home is a very simple science task which helps them understand the need to save every drop of water at home and put science into practice.”  

Mother Earth filters water naturally as it is absorbed into the aquifers of the ground. Ground soil filters water from leaves, insects and other debris as part of the water cycle infiltration process. Unfortunately, ground water is being contaminated due to pollution such as household chemicals/products and fertilizers and so it becomes unsafe to drink.

Thanks to this science project, students learn how the process of infiltration works and are encouraged to save water consumption. This project aims to reach three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, and Quality Education.

2021-05-01T08:39:12+00:00 May 1st, 2021|

Participation in the online YRE ceremony

On Wednesday, 18th November 2020 Young Reporter’s for the Environment students: Miguel Fenech, Jurgen Xuereb, Jayden Degiorgio and two CCP Science students together with Veteran YRE school coordinator, Mr Martin Azzopardi sdc and LSE Mr Kenneth Abela participated in the online YRE Award Ceremony.

Young reporters for the Environment students (Miguel Fenech, Jurgen Xuereb and Jayden Degiorgio) launched a litter less project campaign in making Paper Roll Angel decorations for Advent and Christmas 2019 and they were awarded an Honourable mention in the category of YRE Article 15-18.

I take the opportunity to THANK especially all my Religion and Science students who participated in these YRE projects in favour of our local environment.  VERY WELL DONE and PRAISE BE TO GOD.

I thank YRE National Coordinator Ms Audrey Gauci for her kind help and support, two foreign correctors who sacrificed their free time correcting our Science and Religion Department YRE project entries 2019 -20 and a sponsor who offered some gifts.

2020-11-20T10:17:17+00:00 November 20th, 2020|

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala CCP Science students introduced to the making of Chinese Porcelain

On Monday, 26th October 2020, a group of Form 4 CCP Science students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua were introduced to the making of Chinese Porcelain. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China Corner at St. Margaret College and this school project was related to the student’s study unit about properties of materials.

Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc who coordinated this project said, “The China Corner of our school serves as a Montessori method of teaching to help students learn scientific concepts and knowledge through application and hands on material. It is also a means of inculcating multiculturalism in education”.

The making of Chinese porcelain has a very long history which goes back to the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD). Antique pieces of Chinese porcelain are considered as national work of art in China. Chinese porcelain is made from various materials like glass, bone, ask, quartz and alabaster but the main ingredient is a white powder (clay mineral) called ‘kaolin’. The name kaolin derives from a small village in China called Gaoling which is situated nearby the porcelain city of Jingdezhen.

Normally in Western countries we refer to Chinese porcelain as ‘china’ and during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) large quantities of Chinese porcelain were exported through the maritime trade. If Chinese porcelain is made of kaolin, quartz and feldspar it can be extremely durable and last for many years.

The process required to make Chinese porcelain is a long and delicate one with dozens of steps required. It involves the crushing of the raw material, cleaning, mixing, forming the shape, bisque-firing (first-firing step), glazing and final firing.

In ancient China only small number of workshops could be ‘imperial kilns’ as they had to acquire the government consent before supplying pieces of porcelain to the Chinese imperial family. In fact the Chinese Imperial family was offered priority when buying the best items of Chinese porcelain and normally the making of porcelain required the mark of the emperor’s reign and dynasty.

The most famous city for porcelain making is Jingdezhen which is 400 km west of the ancient capital city of Hangzhou – the tea capital city. The porcelain city of Jingdezhen derives its name from the Song Dynasty Emperor Jingde for whom in the year 1004 AD fine bluish-white porcelain was produced.

At the end of this project students could admire some pieces of blue and white porcelain made in the city of Jingdezhen and observe its translucent material.

Teacher Martin Azzopardi and his students offer special thanksgivings to the Malta China Cultural Centre, the China Embassy in Malta and the Malta/Sino Friendship Society for their continuous help and support.

Researched by

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Shezdon Pisani, Celaine Said and Mariah Vella under the supervision of the Senior Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc.

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Shezdon Pisani, Celaine Said and Mariah Vella together with their teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc studying the making of Chinese Porcelain.

 

2020-11-20T09:56:29+00:00 November 20th, 2020|

The CHINA CULTURE.ORG uploaded our China Corner article about Chinese Tea Culture

The CHINA CULTURE.ORG uploaded the China Corner article about Chinese Tea Culture

The prestigious CHINA CULTURE.ORG (national website of the China Ministry of Culture) offered a nice coverage to our recent China Corner Project article about Chinese Tea Culture.  

Kindly see the published article in the following link here please:


http://cccweb.chinaculture.org/portal/pubinfo/2020/11/11/200001003002001/5a93a00cdacd4182b9b8b762e2840b14.html  

This is surely another step to uplift our school ethos and stimulate more students to participate in further research projects. 

N.B. Special thanksgivings to Director of the Malta China Cultural Centre, Mr Yang Xiaolong and staff and to the China Embassy for Malta for all the help and support.

2020-11-20T09:47:41+00:00 November 20th, 2020|

Our students learn science faster through application of knowledge

Application of scientific knowledge makes science more valuable at school and throughout my 25 year experience as a Science teacher I can admit that students can learn scientific knowledge faster if science is taught in an applied way. Teaching Science to Core Curriculum Programme (CCP) students is not easy and it entails more planning and thinking. One has to be very flexible and improvise various methods of teaching all the time. The application of scientific knowledge can be very effective to help our students memorize and understand more scientific concepts and theories which can sound abstract to them.

This progressive application of scientific knowledge is highlighted by Isaac Asimov in his book, ‘Chronology of science and discovery’ (originally published in 1989), which beautifully describes how science has shaped the world, from the discovery of fire until the 20th century.

In present day education it is highly important to seriously consider the application of science knowledge in education at all school levels; not just to engage more our students in curriculum and teach them about scientific knowledge, but crucially to provide them with a basic understanding of how science has shaped the world and human civilisation.

Schools need to become the most important application hub of science and our science students need to be involved in debate and decision-making about the fair and sustainable application of new technologies, which would help to address problems such as social inequality and the misuse of scientific discoveries. For example, as much as students should see a positive goal in the increase in welfare and life expectancy they should also be aware of the current problems of inequality relating to food supply and health resources.

So science education should not only address how we apply scientific knowledge to enhance our student’s memory and understanding of scientific concepts and theories but also how to improve the human wellbeing and condition of life.

Science education should be entirely at the service of human needs, and not just to pursue knowledge for its own sake. Science is not only necessary for humanity to succeed socially, environmentally and economically in both the short and the long term, but it is also the best tool available to satisfy the fundamental human thirst for knowledge, as well as to maintain and enhance the human cultural heritage, which is knowledge-based by definition.

 

Written by

Martin Azzopardi sdc

B.A. (Hons) Theol. & H.S., P.G.C.E., M.A. (melit.)

Senior Science teacher at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala Cospicua.

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Sciberras Mikael and Zammit Caydon together with their Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc learning science through application of knowledge.

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Sciberras Mikael and Zammit Caydon together with their Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc learning science through application of knowledge.

St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students: Sciberras Mikael and Zammit Caydon together with their Science teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc learning science through application of knowledge.

 

2020-10-23T08:01:21+00:00 October 23rd, 2020|

Our School is mentioned once again on Xinhua Net News as they offer a brief coverage to the three oldest books found at the National Bibliotheca

The name of our school is mentioned once again on XinhuaNet News as they offer a brief coverage to the three oldest books about China found at the National Bibliotheca of Malta.

See the link here please: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-09/12/c_139363600.htm

Article 2020 -The three oldest books about China found in the National Bibliotheca of Malta by Martin Azzopardi sdc

2020-09-15T16:15:36+00:00 September 15th, 2020|

National Young Reporter’s for the Environment Competition: Wonderful News!

Out of so many participating state/church/independent schools, our School Religion and Science Department students hit once again the top records of the National Young Reporter’s for the Environment Competition as follows:

 

Honourable mention in the category of YRE Article 15-18

  1. Young Reporter’s for the Environment students launch a litter less project campaign in making Paper Roll Angel decorations for Advent and Christmas

by Religion Dept. students: Miguel Fenech, Jurgen Xuereb, Jayden Degiorgio

 

Finalists and Commended YRE 2019 – 2020 Article 15 – 18

  1. Applied Science CCP students create awareness about the risks of extra sugar in our daily diets – COMMENDED

by Science Dept. students: Decelis Luca, Zammit Kaylon, Knaan Gaze, Bonnici Raiza

  1. Raising an awareness campaign about breast cancer at school during the Pink October Campaign – COMMENDED

by Science Dept. students: Emerson Bugeja, Daishan Psaila, Jean Vella, Tiernan Fraser

  1. Verdala Queen’s Young Verdala Leaders Group commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week – COMMENDED

by Science Dept. student: Shaun Portelli

  1. Maltese students join Missio Malta in aid of the Myanmar missionary campaign – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. students: Maya Nussbaum, Sarah Fiorini, Cody Parnis, Jake Chetcuti

  1. A Pro-Life Catholic Irish couple addresses Maltese students who recite the Rosary of the Unborn – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. students: Scicluna Raisa, Bonello Owen

  1. Maltese students commemorate the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Camp Day – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. students:  Klaydi Borg, Darnoc Mizzi, Grech Carl, Mariema Zahra

  1. Young Reporter’s for the Environment students launch a litter less project campaign in making Paper Roll Angel decorations for Advent and Christmas – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. students:  Miguel Fenech, Jurgen Xuereb, Jayden Degiorgio

 

Finalists and Commended YRE 2019 – 2020 Photo 15 – 18

  1. Do cliffs need doors? – FINALIST

by Religion Dept. student: Maya Nussbaun

  1. Halloween pumpkins scaring the cliffs – FINALIST

by Religion Dept. student: Maya Nussbaun

  1. Construction waste an eyesore to our natural environment – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. student: Jasmin Farrugia

  1. Baby playpen ends up on Xaqqa Cliffs – COMMENDED

by Religion Dept. student: Maya Nussbaun

  1. Burnt Fanta lemonade bottles poison the natural habitat

by Religion Dept. student: Maya Nussbaun

  1. Creaky water pump mills in need of repair

by Religion Dept. student: Jasmin Farrugia

  1. Humpty Dumpty downfall of a rubble wall

by Religion Dept. student: Jasmin Farrugia

N.B. We were the first school to win the International YRE award with a SOLAR PANEL CAR PROJECT from our School Science Dept. and this year all the 14 Science and Religion YRE project entries are awarded even a project by CCP Science students.

I take the opportunity to THANK especially all my Religion and Science students who collaborated in fulfilling these YRE projects in favour of our local environment.  VERY WELL DONE and PRAISE BE TO GOD.

Also congratulations to other awarded participants from our school which I leave for Ms Flavia Grima to announce. VERY WELL DONE.

I thank YRE National Coordinator Ms Audrey Gauci for her kind help and support and the two foreign correctors who sacrificed their free time correcting our Science and Religion Department YRE project entries.

I also thank Ms Josephine Diacono, Fr Karm Spiteri ocd and school clerks Ms Patricia Farrugia and Ms Lorraine Vella for their kind help and support throughout the whole year, much appreciated.

Finally I thank Ms Marlene Galea and Mr Andrew Calleja plus the editors of the Malta Independent on Sunday newspaper, Sunday Times of Malta and Missio Mata for contributing in the dissemination process.

Thanks in regards

Martin Azzopardi sdc

Veteran YRE school coordinator

St. Margaret College

Secondary School,

Verdala, Cospicua,

Malta

2020-07-01T20:33:56+00:00 July 1st, 2020|