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Climate Detectives (investigation category)

Team: Upstream Team!

Ireland 16 years old, 15 years old   7, 1 / 4

Project title:

How does agriculture affect water quality in Ireland?

Research question

Does the use of different fertilisers affect the water quality in the surrounding rivers and that of animal habitats and animal species?

Identify the local environmental/climate problem you want to investigate

The local climate issue/problem we are investigating is how agriculture affects the water quality in Ireland. We want to investigate the relation between water quality and agriculture to see if water quality can be improved using different farming methods. We also want to investigate alternative fertilisers that could be used that would not harm the river quality.

Our investigation will allow us to further examine the rivers that are beside farms or run through farms. We feel that this investigation is important as rivers support habitats and many species as well as recreational activities and tourism.

Project topic


Describe how you plan to investigate the problem identified and which data you plan to analyse.

Our team is planning to investigate our climate problem by comparing a river’s water that flows through a farm against a river’s water which does not flow through a farm. We plan to investigate this by carrying out several different experiments on the river that flows through the farm and the river that doesn’t flow through the farm. We will carry out experiments using pH metre, phosphate and nitrate strips.
We will use a data logger with a BOD sensor attached to determine the biochemical (biological) oxygen demand of the water. This measurement is a good indicator on the overall quality of water.

We plan to do kick tests to investigate the organisms present in the water. This is where we kick the bed of the river and catch everything collected in a tray, using an identification key and microscope. We will examine our findings to determine whether the water is polluted or not, we can tell this by the different species of insects. The higher the amount of insects, the better the water is. Kick sampling is a relatively quick process and we will carry it out multiple times in the river which will help us get an average. We will then compare this to the qualitative and quantitative data we will have collected at the other river. We will then compare our collected data which will tell us whether our hypothesis is then correct or incorrect.

Your feedback

Expert feedback Phase 1 - 2023-2024
Is the suggested problem a problem that the students can actually investigate? Is it feasible, realistic? Please explain why or why not. Is the relation with climate/local environment worked out? Where necessary indicate the wider scientific context to which the identified problem belongs.