In the Summer of 2022, Gabriel Parodi (lecturer at the Faculty ITC, water resources department) represented ITC at the University of Twente's Curious-U Summer School. Curious-U was cancelled during the pandemic but after 5 years of itc participation, Gabriel is looking to open the course to more itc staff interested in offering education during summer. This blogpost is a reflection of his experiences.
Curious-U is the education-summer camp program organized every year by the University of Twente. And just like every year, it starts two weeks before the beginning of a new Academic year. During nine days up to 350 students, mostly European and Asian, participate in a unique and unforgettable educational and international life experience. This year, the number was affected by the post-pandemic situation, but the UT expects to have even higher student numbers in the coming events. The organization of Curious-U happens throughout the whole year. Actually, the preparation of every next year Summer School starts the very next day after the current version ends.
The main goal of this Summer program is to promote the University of Twente as an attractive choice for students seeking a Bachelors's or a MSc program. This requires quite some ingenuity and it is a challenge for the participating staff. At its core, Curious-U consists of two main components triggering the student's curiosity: education and healthy fun. The robust and tireless team of the Curious-U organizers take care of all aspects of the program except for the academic component. Attention for security, lodging, sanitation, food, medical assistance, musical events, excursions, and overall fun is noticeably present.
From the educational side, all UT faculties are present. Staff willing to invest part of their holiday time preparing a package based on challenges wherein students face a problem, propose a solution and learn the techniques to achieve success, are heartily welcomed. Learning by solving!
At the ITC faculty, we do not offer a Bachelor program. That seems to be the reason ITC had a very low start in Curious-U. It was Suhyb Salama from ITC's WRS department who first designed a program to represent ITC in the Summer School. External circumstances made that the responsibility of the course would soon fall into my hands. I decided to produce a program able to expose in 7 days the most attractive Core topics of ITC: the highlights of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing, our essence. Initially alone and later with the participation of Diana Chavarro Rincón and Lucas de Oto, the program was a smart extraction of the core of ITC where students learn to create thematic maps, analyze imagery, and organize data collection with mobile GIS.
This year was different. The UT suggested to incorporate challenges into the traditional educational scheme. Three societal based challenges were created. The "land: floods" challenge consisted in detecting the vulnerability of an area to floods while finding solutions. On a proportionate scale, the student tent area was chosen as the "affected city". Data retrieval with the use of GNSS-RTK and drones followed by GIS was used in the solution. The "air: mapping" challenge consisted of the use of mobile GIS and drone imagery to support from the air the construction of a certain thematic map within the interest of the participants. The choice was between a "touristic", "logistic" and "eco" spatial product for the campus. The last "water: health" challenge was different. An inflatable boat, a sonar, and a speedy water quality tester for ponds were bought to map the quality of some of the numerous water bodies inside the campus. The original plan was rejected by the security of the UT indicating severe risk due to the presence of blue algae. The exercise was then moved to Het Rutbeek where the 3 student groups made their first experience in professional water mapping. We knew that the lake was not polluted, but it was illustrative and fun.
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