CERN connects with IceCube to bring science to schools

Clockwise from top left: Angelos Alexopoulos and Zoltan Szillasi in the CMS Control Room, Jim Madsen at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), students in Athens, Michael Hoch in the CMS Control Room, a detail of the CMS detector as shown by Noemi Beni, and students in the US (Composite image: Angelos Alexopoulos)

Last week, 20 students from Ellinogermaniki Agogi high school in Athens, Greece, and 30 students from Gaston Day School in North Carolina in the US had the opportunity to interact live via the web with researchers at the CMS experiment at CERN and researchers from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica.

The virtual visit was the first test of a pilot scheme to connect the two laboratories, supported by the Open Discovery Space project.

"We are very excited to team up with the Outreach Group of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole," says Angelos Alexopoulos of the CERN Education Group. "The project offers high-school students an integrated view of pioneering efforts to understand of the cosmos."

For Alexopoulos, the team-up reflects the collaborative spirit that is essential for any Big Science project. "Whether you are IceCube - looking for super-energetic neutrinos in Antarctic ice - or CERN, colliding protons at unprecedented energies in the Large Hadron Collider, working in such collaborative teams is good for science," he says.

Jim Madsen, associate director for Education and Outreach at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, says that his team was very excited to get a look at the CMS detector and hear about the similarities between work being done at CERN and at IceCube.

"The students who connected in were really impressed with the virtual tour, and we have many ideas for expanding access to reach more schools from both sides of the Atlantic," he says

Sofoklis Sotiriou at Ellinogermaniki Agogi’s R&D department will be studying the outcomes of the 90-minute tour in detail. "Our aim is to propose a framework for the organization of similar events for more schools from all over the world," he says.

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