High school students & Sentinels’ data: our experiment

Within the frame of the recent introduction (Alternanza Scuola Lavoro) in the Italian public school system of compulsory stages in private and public enterprises, the possibility that high school students could contribute actively to a scientific project was explored.
About 30 high school students from the 3rd and 4th year (~16-18 years old) from two Scientific High Schools in Rome, (“Louis Pasteur” and “Isacco Netwon”), were involved in different phases of a study performed at the Institute for Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council (ISAC-CNR).
The study was done in response to the ITT Sea-ice cloud screening for Copernicus Sentinel-3 Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer issued by EUMETSAT.
Student were involved in two different job tasks: first, they were asked to organize a set of relevant reviewed literature, about 140 among journal articles, Technical Reports and Algorithm Theoretical Basis Documents (ATBD), and to summarize the main information used for cloud-sea ice detection from previous studies. Secondly, their contribution consisted in selecting and documenting study cases, used as a reference dataset for validation and tuning of the PDF’s in different phases of their development.
Some difficulties emerged during the time the project was carried out. They were not due to the tools or to the EO data but mostly to the novelty of the situation the students had to face. Their scholastic background revealed itself to be less important than a constructive attitude aimed at an efficient way to manage time and resources. In particular, the inability to, adequately, report the work done and to respect deadlines appeared as common weaknesses.