CERN today announced the winners of its first Beamline for Schools competition. Following almost 300 submissions from school groups around the world, two teams have been selected to come to CERN to carry out their own experiments at a CERN beam line. The winners are the “Odysseus' Comrades” team from Varvakios Pilot School in Athens, Greece and the “Dominicuscollege” team from Dominicus College in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
To coincide with CERN’s 60th anniversary this year, the laboratory launched the beam line for schools competition. The idea is to make a fully equipped beam line available for high-school students to run an experiment in the same way that the laboratory’s researchers do.
“When we first had the idea of offering a beam line to schools, I never expected such a fantastic range of proposals from around the world,” says Christoph Rembser, coordinator of the initiative. “I’ve been amazed by the creativity and motivation of the students who entered. Many students wrote that even if they didn’t win, they’d already had an amazing experience taking part and learning the physics to write their proposal. For many it was their first taste of real science.”
In proposals of fewer than 1000 words, teams had to explain why they wanted to come to CERN, what they hoped to take away from the experience and give initial thoughts on how they would use the particle beam for their experiment. They also had to summarize their written proposal in a creative and entertaining video.
When the competition closed at the end of March, 292 proposals had been submitted. Teams of CERN scientists then evaluated proposals based on creativity, motivation, feasibility and scientific method. After two rounds of evaluation, 16 teams were highly commended and put forward for final selection by an official CERN committee that assigns beam time to experiments. The committee decided to choose not one but two winning teams, both of which have been invited to CERN to carry out their experiments together.
Odysseus’ Comrades are a team of 12. Their proposal is to look at the decay of charged pions (particles containing a quark and an antiquark) to investigate the weak force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.
Dominicuscollege are a team of five. Their proposal is to grow their own crystals to make a calorimeter, a device that measures the energy, and to test it with the beam at CERN.
CERN scientists are now discussing the scientific and technical details with the two winning teams to prepare the setup of their experiments, which will be carried out in September.
Of the 292 proposals submitted, 16 were given the status of highly commended. In alphabetical order by team name, these were as follows: ArchiGuys from Italy, Beamaniacs from Turkey, Bearcat Beam Team from the United States of America, Cepheids from Singapore, CERNinos from Switzerland, Copernicus Team from Poland, Dominicuscollege from the Netherlands, Els Positrònics from Spain, Femtonautas from Spain, Hardworking International Group of Grenoble's Scientists from France, INerdPerCaso from Italy, Liceo Scientifico Leonardo da Vinci Treviso from Italy, Odysseus' Comrades from Greece, St John's College from South Africa, Team Kopernicium from Germany and Youngsteins from Austria.