Young Scientists as Change Explorers

English | German | French | Italian | Czech | Estonian


This remote sensing curriculum is a methods guideline for teachers, helping them to select appropriate learning activities for their students in remote sensing.  You can freely decide which approaches and competences you want to pursue. The curriculum provides guidelines for teachers which remote sensing methods are suitable for different class grades. It also includes thematic examples, but these are far from exhaustive.

This curriculum is based on the national curricula of the YCHANGE project partners and their expertise in teaching and developing remote sensing materials, remote sensing education research (e.g. Kollar 2012).  This curriculum does assume that you are using standard desktop software (e.g. LeoWorks) or an online tool (e.g. BLIF).

This curriculum describes a learning progression towards a professional use of remote sensing and digital satellite images in different job fields. It starts on a basic level introducing basic functionalities and methods. It moves step by step to more advanced applications that provide access to a professional use of remote sensing in science, business and public administration. Understanding remote sensing is also useful for contributing in public initiatives such as citizen science.

Download the English curriculum as PDF file

Stáhnout učební plán v českém jazyce ve formátu PDF

Die Deutsche Version des Curriculums können sie hier als PDF herunterladen.

Lae alla eestikeelne versioon õppekavast




  • by the end of grade 6, students should reach level 1
  • by the end of grade 10, students should reach level 4
  • by the end of grade 12, students should reach level 5

But you can start on any level in any class grade, depending on the skills/ pre-experience of your students. Please also base your decision on which level to target on your students’ individual competences.

You freely decide to combine either competence level with either approach (e.g. I-1, II-2, I-3, II-5). We highly recommend creating own student projects. After having worked with guided materials as an introduction, student projects help students to individually learn competences in methodological areas such as asking geographic questions, selecting appropriate methods, etc. which are demanded by many curricula.


Level of Remote Sensing Approaches for Grade 5-12


work with detailed step-by-step worksheets


work with general sample projects


create own student projects (e.g. define a question and select appropriate tools/ data)


Level of Remote Sensing Competences for Grade 5-12

These competences define different levels of skills in analysing satellite images in a progressive way.  In some cases you can already move to the next level before having completed all parts of the lower level, e.g. you need to be able to read true color before comparing two images, but you can do classification without having to know how to measure distance. The specific YCHANGE sample projects indicate requirements and target competencies.

The colors indicate:
- competencies that could be reached with suitable printouts, Google Earth, or BLIF
- competencies that could be reached with Google Earth or BLIF
- competencies that could be reached with BLIF




Competences: I can …


Sample Questions

(not exhaustive)



… describe what a satellite image and remote sensing are.


What is the purpose of remote sensing satellites?



… identify elements and structures on/ read a true color satellite images.


Which objects can you see in a satellite image?



… identify elements and structures on/ read a false color satellite images.



Which exemplary objects on the Earth's surface can be seen better in false color satellite images?



… evaluate the suitability of different image bands for a given question.



Which color band is best suited for emphasizing vegetated areas in satellite images?



… measure distances and areas on satellite images.


What is the distance between X and Y?



… compare satellite images (e.g. change detection).


Please describe and explain the differences between satellite image 1 and 2.



… understand the application of indices (e.g. NDVI) and read the resulting map.



What is the main advantage of an index compared to color band combinations?



… understand applications and benefits of using remote sensing.


Why is remote sensing a valuable and powerful method?



… open a digital satellite image as well as understand the purpose of and apply automatic image enhancements.


Which preparatory steps would you perform to improve the visual appearance of satellite images?



… classify satellite images (assisted manual classification or automatic classification) and read the resulting map.



What is the result of an automatic satellite image classification?



… manually classify satellite images and select the appropriate band combination to do so.



How can you support your manual classification regarding color band combinations?



… understand the purpose of and apply histogram manipulation.


What can be achieved via histogram manipulation in satellite images?



… understand limitations of remote sensing data and impacts on satellite image analysis (e.g. resolution, cloud cover).


Which factors or situations can restrict the usage of satellite images for remote sensing?



Beyond Grade 12

The following competences can also be worked towards in BLIF, but they are suitable more for university students than school students:

… read TerraSAR-X images

… use advanced methods such as scatterplots to select band combinations (e.g. for classification) or pan-sharpening for better spatial resolution

There are also other competencies that will be acquired in university that are only available in advanced software (e.g. advanced corrections, create composites).



Further reading to extend general skills in remote sensing

  • Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation: Tutorial: Fundamentals of Remote Sensing. Available online: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/node/9309 (last access: 2018-01-23).
  • Schott, J.R. (2007): Remote Sensing - The Image Chain Approach. Oxford University Press.





BLIF - die webbasierte Fernerkundungssoftware für Schulen. BLIF – the web-based remote sensing software for school education.  http://www.blif.de/ (last access: 2018-01-12)

Kollar 2012

Kollar, Isabelle (2012): Die Satellitenbild-Lesekompetenz. Empirische Überprüfung eines theoriegeleiteten Kompetenzstrukturmodells für das „Lesen“ von Satellitenbildern. The Satellite Image Reading Literacy. Empirical validation of a theoretical competence structure model of "reading" satellite images. Dissertation.

http://nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn:nbn:de:bsz:he76-opus-75277 (last access: 2018-01-12)


LEOWorks. Image Processing/Geographic Information System (GIS) for Educational Purposes.

http://leoworks.terrasigna.com/ (last access: 2018-01-12)