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Elena Arabini, NASA contractor through Analitical Services & Materials, assigned to Atmospheric Science Div., Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA (USA)
Luca Lombroso, SMI member at Geophysical Observatory, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena (Italy).


15.01.2004 - Students' Cloud Observations On-Line, S’COOL is a hands-on project that involves schools of every grade in collaborative research on Earth’s climate with NASA scientists to create learning opportunities and to educate inquisitive minds.

Students make basic weather observations (ground truth) and record the type, amount, and features of clouds in the sky at the exact time the satellite passes over their location. The observations are used to validate the Cloud and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument on-board the new generation satellites TERAA, ACQUA and TRMM. The CERES sophisticated sensors measure the heat and sunlight reaching them when it observes clear and cloudy areas of the globe. This helps scientists figure out where clouds act to heat and cool the surface and how clouds are changing due to human activities on Earth. The ground truth observations are either entered into an on-line form, e-mailed, faxed or mailed to NASA Langley for entry into an on-line database. Students have access to their results and the corresponding satellite data as well as observations from other participating schools. The on-line observations can be used as an ideal tool to teach physics, math, geography science, computer science and in addition to learn foreign languages, and improve with art and litterature.

Scientists compare the ground truth to CERES measurements to evaluate how well the satellite instrument and the scientific analysis methods are performing. When patterns of disagreement are found, they can lead to improvements in the analysis methods.

Participants will receive educational material from NASA, the satellites overpas schedules and detailed intructions on how to make the observations and send the results to NASA. Science learning kits will also be available for participants. There is no cost involved!

The S’COOL project identifies the U.S. national standards for science, math, and geography that are most relevant to S’COOL at each grade level. On the web site, the experiences of the teachers with S’COOL are reported together with effective procedures that they have found through implementation in their classrooms.

In Modena, a medium size town in the north of Italy, S’COOL has been promoted thanks to a collaboration with the City Council that, through the “Educational Itineraries Service” coordinated with the Italian Meteorology Society and the Geophysical Observatory at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, provided extra support to the teachers. The City Council has listed the project as one of the Science and Technology Itineraries suggested to the schools of the town and the province. In addition, involving the Geophysical Observatory through Luca Lombroso, who is also member of the Italian Meteorological Society, the City Council has organized training courses for the teachers, provided extra educational material and the SMI clouds poster. The City Council operated in strict contact with NASA through Dr. Elena Arabini who is responsible for the Italian schools coordination.

Undoubtedly, in Italy schools are really interested in meteorology and climate studies but unfortunately the Intitutions and the Research Centers are not yet active enough with science comunication.

Among the other interests of the Italian Meteorology Society, the educational activities play a dominant role and S’COOL can represent an ideal mean to improve the atmospheric science comunication and to develop other educational projects with the collaboration of the Research Center and the Institutions. 

For further information about th S’COOL project:
The CERES S'COOL Project
Mail stop 420
NASA Langley Research Center
Hamplon VA 23681 - 5682
FAX 1 (757) 864 - 7996
Web site: (English) (Italian)

Link for further information:

·         The CERES instrument

·         NASA Langley Reaserch Center

·         Modena City Council – Educational Itineraries Service  

·         The Modena City Council’s Science and Technology Itinerary   |tmp|hwtemp|3se465d7.tmp/fvis_iti

·        The Geophysical Osservatory at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia

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