Summer school at Rifugio Garibaldi- Lombardy (Italy): An Effective Example of Citizen Science


A holistic experience, a result of collaboration between school and university, to raise young people’s awareness about management, development and protection of mountain areas.

In the last years, the Citizen Science initiatives in schools have become an object of strong interest and study, providing students with practical and real-life problems to learn and implement the scientific method, in collaboration with Research Institutions and Universities.

Since my students and I are involved in the eTwinning/Erasmus+ project ‘eHAND’ about the effects of human activities on Natural Disasters, we have focused on environmental problems in our area, the North of Italy, which turned out to be hydro-geological instability mostly in the mountain area (floods, landslides, permafrost thaw, melting glaciers…), so we have set out to work on these issues in close contact with the research sector.

Our steps, always guided trough research process by researchers and professors of ‘Università degli studi di Milano’ and ‘Università dell’Insubria’, involving the subjects Math, Physics, Science, History, ICT and English:

– Analysis of our area ;

– Conferences and analysis of ortophotographs taken by satellites to study our mountains and the climate change; video

– Outdoor investigation

On the occasion of the presentation of the project Italian Mountain Lab, a partnership lead by the UNIMONT Centre of excellence, and working together for Italian mountain areas with the University of Milan, the University of Eastern Piedmont and the University of Tuscia, some students involved in the eHAND project had the opportunity to attend the Mountainhack competition, organized by MIUR in Milan, the 11-12 December 2017.

We found in these initiatives our own aims: the achievement of the goals of the Europa 2020 strategy, of Agenda 2030 with a view to EXPO2020.

During the meeting teachers planned  a networking of school ‘scuole in vetta’ while students their own projects about a  sustainable development related to ‘mountain and sport’ (see the winning project)  and ‘mountain and tourism’  (see the winning project).

As part of the educational and networking activities of the Italian Mountain Lab project, a Summer School with over 50 students and teachers took place at the Garibaldi Refuge in Val d’Avio – Valle Camonica (BS) from 15th to 17th June 2018.

Teachers and students experimented educational paths (history, economy, science,…) of citizen science and, with the help of professionals and experts from the universities involved, also worked on proposal of “Education and training at high altitudes”, in direct contact with the mountain and its peculiarities and using digital learning material.

I think that this Summer School has been a very important occasion to develop and increase the awareness of teachers and students of the opportunities of mountain areas on a local, regional and national scale and to show how to bring research into classrooms, starting from real-life and local problems in order to provide practical experiences in scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and problem solving so students can learn the importance of formulating hypothesis, analyzing data, and interpreting their own observations as well as of using innovative digital tools.


Author: Franca Sormani

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