Nearly 200 students involved in ‘The #FossilSeaChallenge’

Scientific experiments, crossword puzzles, hiking, hot-air ballooning, videos, 3D models. Originality was the absolute star of the show entitled “The #FossilSeaChallenge”, the competition organised by the Autonomous Province of Trento as part of the work of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation networks Geological Heritage and Education and Scientific Research. Eight high schools entered the competition and the winners, with an equal score, were Collegio “Don Bosco” in Pordenone and Istituto “La Rosa Bianca” in Cavalese (TN). The prize-giving will take place on 4 June at the HQ of the Autonomous Province of Trento.


The aim of the competition was to encourage the high schools in the five Dolomite provinces to come up with scientific research and awareness-raising projects centred on the action that water has had and continues to have in the process of forming the mountain landscape. This subject was approached and expressed in an amazing variety of ways by the nearly 200 students taking part.

“We want to take on The #FossilSeaChallenge as a way of telling other young people, our cousins and little brothers and sisters why the Dolomites that are their home have such worldwide importance”. In order to achieve this goal, the students of form 2B of the scientific high school Istituto La Rosa Bianca in Cavalese, wrote a scientific article using language suitable for middle-school pupils, then a fairy tale entitled “Dolomia, the siren who became a mountain” aimed at primary school children and finally, a magnificent mural located at the Alpe Cermis (Masi di Cavalese) cableway depicting the heroine of the fairy tale. In other words, three different languages for three different target audiences.

The jury found this project of equal merit to that of Collegio Don Bosco in Pordenone whose students created a series of videos to take visitors on a virtual voyage of discovery around the territory the students call home, its geology and the historical events it has been witness to, in particular those associated with the Great War. The students of Don Bosco school also reminded us that in 2019 we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Dolomites’ listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for which they decided to lighten the organisational workload by creating their own special event: “Dolomites: the mountain voice”, planned for the summer of 2019 and including hot-air balloon trips, concerts and orienteering. Last but not least, they got to work on creating a crossword puzzle to test local people’s knowledge of the environment they live in. Here’s an example: 15 across “The highest peak in the Friuli and Oltre Piave Dolomites, height 2706m”; 5 down: “The glaciers relating to the most recent period in the geological history of the earth” (don’t expect the answers, what good would that be?!).


Choosing the winners wasn’t an easy task at all. Indeed the competition entries were quite amazing for the complex routes they took, led by the teachers and for the creativity of the forms of communication used, often consistent with the study focus of the different schools.

The artistic high school Liceo Artistico Munari in Treviso came up with a project that was not entered for the competition as the school is out of the prescribed area. This involved a themed day entitled: “The Dolomites, writings on water”, delivered in different communications channels, such as social media, T-shirts and leaflets.

The language high school Liceo Linguistico Marcelline in Bolzano put together a video focussing not only on the scientific aspects of the area, but also on the cultural riches of the Dolomites, so well represented by its linguistic variety.

The comprehensive school Polo Val Boite in Belluno entered two projects. In the first one the students made a video describing some of their laboratory experiments on geological and geomorphological aspects of the Fosses area, and they built a three-dimensional model forming a relief map of the area. The second project focused on the Ra Stua area using hypertext.

The Ladin school Scuola Ladina in Fassa made a scientific poster describing the interaction between water and the Dolomites in the past, present and future.

The scientific high school Liceo Scientifico Galilei in Trento came up with a hiking trail in the area of Mount Peller (the Brenta Dolomites), with information delivered via a specially created blog.


The purpose of the competition was to enable young people to play a part in developing a more aware vision of the object of their research, that being the Dolomites, doing it in the context of healthy competition. The goal was achieved and even exceeded in that the students showed themselves to be aware that the competition was not an end in itself but rather an opportunity to spread awareness to others of the values expressed in their projects.