The following blog was written by Year 12 AS Phyics student, Tristan on his recent school trip to CERN with his school, Trinity Catholic School, organised by Adaptable Travel.
On arrival at the airport we were only halted by the brief delay of waiting by the baggage collection then were escorted to our train where we were delighted to find a childrens’ play area without the annoyance that is the children that frequent such an area, leaving us the dominant users allowing unlimited trips down slides that were intended for people a third of our size. One thing that can be said for the Swiss is that their public transport runs like clockwork, that is if you are unfortunate enough to own a clock that is frequently stopping to give other people the chance to use it.
Youth Hostels as defined by Google are a source of cheap accommodation that are aimed mainly at young people who are on walking or cycling vacations. The experience we gained of our youth hostel only fitted one of these criteria and that was only due to our lack of age. There not a single backpacker, cyclist or person using any other form of unorthodox transportation sighted and the accommodation was perfectly reasonable. So what I guess my point is that I am trying to make is that Youth Hostels should not be based on what one searches for on the internet, no matter how prestigious the search engine used.
First activity. We walked to the ITU building, which is to the left of the United Nations building and diagonally opposite McDonalds, in the cold drizzle that is so typical of the country that we had, previously that day, left. The people at the ITU building could be compared to the Timelords of Doctor Who. Whilst the timelords are busy maintaining the temporal schism of time, the hard working employees of ITU look after global communications, radio frequencies and the internet making sure that they all work and new technologies can be added seamlessly to the ever-expanding existing infrastructure of information and technological communication. Or something like that.
After a long and arduous day of travelling (not to mention jet lag) you would have expected at least 15 minutes worth of a lie in come the morn but apparently a six thirty start is needed to get to the main attraction of the day.
Walk, tram, tram and walk some more and you can get to the CERN laboratories from the Youth hostel in about 32 minutes. Once there, entering the reception you will be greeted by the smell of knowledge, the sight of innovation and a small gift shop selling various memorabilia sporting the CERN logo. We were promptly whisked into a lecture hall where a brief presentation of what CERN is all about was given to us by a Spanish student whose name began with a J (probably Jose or Javier). Following the speech by Jesús we lepton a bus (see what I did there) and were transported to where the real shiz was going down. Here we were finally allowed the first glimpse of what we had come all this way to see, the Large Hadron Collider. To see the detectors responsible or the discovery of how the universe works we had to transverse down a 100 meter shaft in an elevator. At the bottom, through a series of winding tunnels and through a security door or two and we were greeted by a cavern the size of a cathedral. Similarities to religious establishments stop there as taking centre stage is a dead silent cylinder with numerous wires and pipes coming off, something that would not look out of place in an Arthur C Clarke novel. When thinking of a name the scientists could not have chosen a more apt word than Large. This thing was massive; it seems slightly ironic that such a large object is needed to look for something so small. Looking up gives you the vertigo-induced feeling of awe and inspiration whilst looking down gives you the feeling that you are wasting an opportunity as there is not really much to see other than your feet. A few selfies later and we started to make our way back to the surface where our coach is waiting to take us back to the gift shop in a pointless last ditch attempt to entice us to buy a t-shirt with the standard model equations embossed on it.
The last day and I’m down to my final t-shirt. Leaving the hostel with the four standard model equations proudly showing on my chest we made our way down to Lac Léman and towards the science museum. A brief whizz around the museum told us that there had been a lot of important discoveries but none that were in English so we had no idea what they were. For the next few hours we were given our last chance to look around Geneva before we would be boarding the plane back to England.
On reflection the last few days had been one of the more memorable excursions of my school career, it had been tiring but well worth the effort and definitely something that I would remember. At least on the plane back I will be able to rest…
Written by Tristan, age 17.
If you are interested in organising a school trips to CERN, then why not contact Adaptable Travel today to find out how we can help you take your group of students on the most inspirational science trip you could possibly experience.
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