Nuclear Research visit
11th May 2015

Over the Easter holidays, a group of Oundle School pupils travelled to Geneva to visit CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

Lower Sixth Form Physicist, Honor Murison (17) commented, “On the first morning we were shown a video and light display of the history and development of the research that went on at CERN. This proved fascinating and explained how the pion (one of the fundamental particles) was discovered through collision experiments.”

First on the agenda in the afternoon was a talk by a physicist at CERN explaining the physics behind early and current particle experiments, sparking a curiosity amongst many as to things such as the properties of the little known dark matter. After this talk the pupils were met by a computer technologist who works on Atlas, the largest of the four detectors in the large hadron collider. She showed them the control rooms for Atlas and explained how this massive structure (taking up a space which is as big as St. Paul's Cathedral and 100m underground) was created and constructed, with everything being assembled below ground in the tunnels.

The group was then shown where the giant magnets responsible for making the particles collide were made and tested. Here the pupils saw different sections of the tunnel and learnt about how the colliders were constructed to be as efficient as possible using materials such as superconductors to decrease wasted energy due to resistance.

Finally the pupils visited the UN and were given the chance to see famous and impressive conference rooms whilst learning about the history of the UN.

Honor added, “Following the UN visit we split into teams and were given a quiz which took us on a tour of Geneva with the final location being a charming Italian restaurant where we had dinner.”


Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.


The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 


There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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