MPBA - Webvalley

WebValley is the FBK summer school for dissemination of interdisciplinary research and Data Science: almost 300 students (17-19y old) have attended the WebValley camps since its first edition in 2001. WebValley started as a regional initiative for high school students from Trentino Alto-Adige SüdTirol, and it is now an opportunity for national and international students to experiment scientific research – until now we have accepted students from Italy, USA, Ireland, Ukraine, Germany, Croatia, China, and India.
The School has a duration of three weeks and it is entirely in English.

Based on co-funding by collaborating institutions, full (including travel) and partial fellowships will be offered covering full tuition, accommodation, leisure time activities, and local travel costs. The team is composed of Italian and International Students, and each year some fellowships are reserved for students from Trentino and for Regeneron ISEF finalists.

The requirements to participate are: High School student (for Italy: 4th year completed), adequate knowledge of English, enthusiasm in science and new technologies, above-average school records, student’s motivation letter and teacher’s recommendation letter.
The school strongly encourages the participation of all genders and various backgrounds.

The WebValley formula: Create a team of enthusiast and motivated high school students (18 y) tutored by researchers.


How it works

The team accepts a challenge by a collaborating scientist from Ecology, Biology or Social Sciences and develops in three weeks a new web-based prototype for data analysis and management.

  • Students are introduced to Open Source software solutions (scientific programming, web interfaces, database, GIS and data analysis); they discuss, design and develop the new system interacting with scientists. They learn to select tools, organize their own workplan, and respond with a new solution to a problem of ethical interest. A working prototype web solution and the technical results are presented at the end of the three weeks period.
  • The project activities are developed mostly in teamwork as in a true research environment, that is informal and of high quality in resources, competence and organization. Each student can differently contribute to project with ideas, software code or data preparation, design of new web interfaces, project presentation.
  • The location: the school is held in a high-tech lab located in a small Alpine village, to demonstrate that web access may support new types of innovative actions also in remote areas, combining new technologies and high-quality of life in a natural environment. (Lab is open all day, but group activities and leisure time are also part of the three weeks).

The project

The project is the main thread of activities and it constitutes a challenge for the working group, facing the problem of designing and building a new web-based service for managing and sharing of data (ecological and environmental interest, or social).

The starting point is the philosophy of combining open source tools, FBK research products and the creativity of participants. We try to provide students an opportunity to test themselves, within a group, to acquire and apply skills (HTML, PHP, Database, GIS) and methods to multidisciplinary research (analysis and visualization of data, design systems, interaction with experts from non- specialist).

The project is always motivated from researchers coming from a specific field who are looking for a new technical solution to a real problem.