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CERN’s International High-School Teacher Programme turns 20

Officially set up in 1998, the teacher programmes bring hundreds of teachers to CERN each year

International High School Teacher Programme 2018
46 enthused teachers from 33 different countries took part in the International High-School Teacher Programme 2018 (Image: Anthony Valsamis/CERN)

On Sunday, 1 July 2018, CERN welcomed 46 teachers from 33 different countries (and all continents) to start the International High-School Teacher (HST) Programme 2018. This three-week residential programme, which has taken place at CERN every July since 1998, is designed for science teachers from all around the world to discover the fascinating world of particle physics. The programme includes lectures, on-site visits, hands-on workshops, discussions and Q&A sessions. Moreover, during the three weeks, all teachers collaborate in several working groups on various topics related to particle physics and its integration into the classroom. For example, teachers build particle traps in S’Cool LAB, develop and evaluate new tools for the CERN Open Data portal, run a medical applications hackathon at IdeaSquare, or update educational resources for the IPPOG database.

Since its formal implementation over 20 years ago, CERN’s HST programme has come a long way. While the first year saw the nine participating teachers attend summer-student lectures as well as a series of special lectures and visits prepared for them, the HST programme today brings together up to 48 participants from around the world, who follow a professional-development programme carefully designed for them.

What started once as a single programme for a small group of teachers has grown into one of CERN’s many success stories. The teacher programmes are an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and the critical role they play in preparing the future of humanity. It has inspired and empowered teachers and, through them, their pupils. Over the past 20 years, HST participants from different parts of the world became firm friends and many more remain in touch with each other to this day. Indeed, a crucial part of the programme is the free evenings and carefully selected social events, which enable the participants to share ideas and learn from each other’s experiences.

In 2017, prompted by the ever-increasing number of applications, a second international teacher programme - the International Teacher Weeks programme - was set up to double CERN’s offer for teachers from around the world. CERN now offers teacher programmes almost year-round. So far, about 12000 teachers have participated in CERN’s national and international teacher programmes, and every year another 1000 teachers travel to Geneva to do so.

Teachers have always been key players in CERN’s mission to train the scientists of tomorrow and CERN’s teacher programmes will continue to inspire and enthuse teachers from around the world on a weekly basis. Twenty years on, the HST programme continues to bring together teachers from all around the world, who return to their classrooms as motivated ambassadors for science and engineering.

Find out more about CERN’s teacher programmes: cern.ch/teachers