Welsh Physics Teachers visit world-leading Geneva laboratory

24 Feb 2015 12:30 PM

Sixteen secondary school Physics teachers from across Wales will experience the school trip of a lifetime this week when they attend a four-day professional learning course at the world famous European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva.

As part of the Welsh Government’s Qualified for Life: Focus on Science campaign the teachers will attend a bespoke course that introduces them to cutting-edge particle physics.  This includes lectures, on-site visits, exhibitions and hands-on workshops. It is hoped that they will return to Wales as ambassadors, passing on the subject to our next generation of physicists, engineers and IT specialists.

Following the trip the participating teachers’ school science departments will receive funding from the National Science Learning Centre to help implement the action plans that the teachers will develop while at CERN.

In addition, during the 2015 summer term, a one-day follow-up event is planned in Techniquest, Cardiff, when the group will compare their experiences of the visit and how it has impacted on the teaching and learning of Physics in their schools.

Established in 1954, CERN physicists are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.

The work of CERN came to the world’s attention recently thanks to their development of the Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most powerful particle collider, and the largest single machine, in the world.

Dr Lyn Evans, from Aberdare, was Project Leader on the Large Hadron Collider project and is recognised as one of the world’s most influential physicists. Dr Evans is working closely with the Welsh Government on the Qualified for Life: Focus on Science campaign and helped to arrange the course.

Four teachers will be producing video diaries during their time at CERN to share their experiences. These will be viewable on the Welsh Government YouTube channel at a later date (www.youtube.com/welshgovernment)

One of the participating teachers, Kerry Richards from Cyfarthfa High School said:

"I feel privileged to be given this amazing opportunity to see at first hand the incredible research that takes place at CERN. I'm particularly looking forward to speaking with the researchers and working with the other Welsh physicists.  This experience will be invaluable and I know we will all gain a lot out of it!"

Education Minister Huw Lewis added:

“I’m thrilled that sixteen of our Physics teachers are spending four invaluable days at the world’s leading pure physics laboratory. I discussed this with Dr Lyn Evans and am extremely grateful to him for making this opportunity available. I’m also grateful to the National Science Learning Centre for their contribution.

“Our Qualified for Life: Focus on Science campaign aims to spread the message of the value of science, that the skills and knowledge gained in science lessons are directly relevant to many jobs and industries, and that science really can pave the way to a stimulating and financially rewarding career.

“I’ve no doubt that the teachers will learn a great deal at CERN which will be translated into new, innovative teaching practices when they return to the classroom and I’m sure that their pupils will be equally inspired. Who knows – some of them may follow in Dr Lyn’s footsteps and go on to be world-leading scientists."