SatSchool: Earth Observation Resource Collection

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Now available on tes are OER adaptations of the SatSchool Collection of Earth Observation Educational Resources! SatSchool is an Earth Observation outreach programme designed and delivered by PhD students from SENSE CDT, spanning multiple universities and research groups.

SatSchool’s web content provides an opportunity for students to learn about worldwide geography, ecosystems, climate and the impacts of human activity through satellite observation and using materials created by current researchers. This content is now available in downloadable, offline accessible and printable forms via tes for use in classrooms regardless of the resources on hand.

The content is most suitable for learners working at the third SCQF curriculum level (ages 11-14), but is adaptable, engaging and accessible to younger and older students.


Resource Overviews:

Introduction to Earth Observation

Introduction to Earth Observation Cover Image

Image: Jason-3 Satellite, Copernicus Marine, EUMETSAT, European Union Copernicus Sentinel images, with text and logo overlay

This pack includes foundational knowledge on the use of technology to produce digital imaging, and introduces the history of satellite developments leading up to present day. Learners are encouraged to ask questions, engage with current science and consider the role of real-world researchers in understanding the Earth and Space. This resource introduces technical topics including satellite orbits, sensing and imaging along with historical and scientific context.

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes: SCN 3-08a, SCN 3-11b, SCN 3-20, SOC 3-14a, SOC 3-08a

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The Biosphere and The Environment 

Satellite view of greenery

Image: Lake George, Uganda by ESA is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO with text and logo overlay

Due to climate change, the biosphere is changing. The Biosphere Module explores what the Biosphere is, how it can be studied through satellite imaging, the effects of climate change and more, using the case study of forest fires. Band maths and plant health are considered to establish an understanding of healthy vegetation. Students can then view the impact of forest fires through data, exploring the use of NDVI indexes and satellite imaging to understand and analyse the extent of the damage.

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes: SCN 3-11b, SCN 3-15, SCN 3-19a, SCN 4-05b, SCN 4-06a, SCN 4-11b, SCN 4-20b, SOC 3-08a, SOC 3-14a, SOC 4-10a

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The Cryosphere: Arctic, Antarctica and Ice 

Icy scenery with The University of Edinburgh Logo

Image: 060727-033 Aerial Portage Glacier, Alaska by Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cryosphere module introduces what the Cryosphere is, the effects of climate change upon ice, and the ecosystems it is home to. The students are able to consider what we could do to monitor or combat this change. These principles are explored through Earth Observation and technological developments, and considerations of how data is presented and analysed by scientists.

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes: SCN 2-08b, SCN 2-15a, SCN 3-08a, SCN 4-06a, SOC 3-07a, SOC 3-14a

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The Atmosphere: Ozone and Weather

Image of Satellites orbiting earth with The University of Edinburgh Logo

Image: July 3, 2013 by Earth Observatory NASA is freely available for re-use

This module aims to develop and encourage curiosity through an expansive, globalised and scientific understanding of the atmosphere. Learners should be able to understand how research components interact to produce a comprehensive overview of the atmosphere, and the effects that climate change may be having upon the atmosphere. This resource makes accessible complex ideas about the atmosphere, what it’s composed of and how we can measure this.

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes: SCN 2-15a, SCN 2-20a, SCN 2-20b, SCN 3-05b, SCN 3-15b, SCN 3-16a, SCN 3-20a, SCN 4-06a, SOC 4-12a, SOC 4-12c

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Oceans: Climate Change and Ecosystems 

An algae bloom in the ocean captured by a satellite

Image: Algae bloom near the Faulkland Islands by NOAA is used in accordance with NOAA’s image licensing and usage guidelines. 

The ocean is the foundation of all life on Earth, and our planet ecosystems are dependent on the health of the oceans to support and sustain them. However, our actions and way of life impact the oceans. This module contains a lot of content so is split into four main sections which can be taught individually or collectively:

  • Oceans 1: The Oceans and Climate [Explore ocean pollution, climate change and global ocean surveys from space! Find out why oceans are important and what threats they are facing.]
  • Oceans 2: Whales and Climate Change [Find out how satellite imaging is used to monitor whales, explore this in a whale spotting activity and learn about historical and present threats to whales.]
  • Oceans 3: Marine Ecosystems [Explore marine ecosystems, the biological pump, and the impact of small organisms collectively on a global scale. Study Phytoplankton’s importance to ocean health, how they are measures and why they are important to the climate.]
  • Oceans 4: Climate, Ocean Density and Circulation [Explore the concept of density and relate global Ocean circulation, patterns and changes to this. Analyse visualisations of data on salinity, temperature and density and understand the scientific reasoning behind what is observed.]

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes:
(SCN 3-01a, SCN 3-05b, SCN 4-05b, SCN 4-06a, SCN 4-20a, SCN 4-20b, SOC 3-08a, SOC 4-09b, SOC 4-11a, SOC 4-12b)

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Hands on With Climate Data

A photo of the Earth from space

Image: Logo and text overlay on Astronaut photograph ISS041-E-081461, Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA does not maintain copyright See more astronaut photography at:

This resource pack gives students the opportunity to try out Earth Observation for themselves! Students can learn about earth observation technology, and be guided through the interpretation of satellite data to observe the effects of deforestation, human activity, seasons and climate change. Through timelapses, interactive maps and code-related activites learners develop their technical, problem solving skills and gain awareness of the environment around them.

The activities in this pack relate well to the content in the other modules. They are suitable as standalone resources or to supplement the other packs.

Relevant Scottish Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes: SCN 3-11b, SCN 4-06a, LIT 3-28a, LIT 4-28a, LIT 3-06a / LIT 4-06a, SOC 4-10a , SOC 3-14a , SOC 4-14a, MNU 4-20a, MNU 3-11a, MNU 4-11a, TCH 4-14c

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