Over the Easter holidays, a group of twenty-two 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.
On the first morning, the group headed to the Microcosm, where the models of all major installations at CERN are on show. They explored how the particle accelerators functioned and then made their way to the Globe of Science and Innovation. In the afternoon, after lunch in the Red Cross café, the group explored Geneva town centre, enjoyed a treasure hunt and had a tour of the United Nations.
Pupil, Emily Wang (16) commented, “The second day was probably the most exciting, partly because we had a guided tour to the Synchrocyclotron (the first particle accelerator at CERN) and the ATLAS and partly because we conducted different experiments in S’Cool Lab under the supervision of PhD students. We were divided into four groups and firstly, we made a cloud chamber of our own. It was incredible to be able to know which particle went past, by analysing its trace.”
The pupils also conducted two more experiments: X-Rays and Electron Tubes. They investigated whether food exposed to X-Rays is safe to eat and had fun using X-Rays to scan all sorts of objects from earphones to pepper. Through using the Electron Tubes, they learned how electrons behave in different electric and magnetic fields. This also explained how protons gain kinetic energy in the LHC when passing through high electric fields and how to keep those protons on a circular track with the help of superconducting electromagnets.
Emily concluded, “We were so lucky to have the opportunity to be in the same place where the most prominent scientists in the world have worked. This CERN trip was an incredible experience and genuinely piqued my interest in physics and served as a great supplement to our school syllabus. I strongly recommend the trip to next year’s L6 physicists.”