School Trip to CERN - A Teachers Account

CERN Study Trips
January 3, 2013

School Trip to CERN - A Teachers Account A school group from Chelmer Valley High School recently undertook a school trip to CERN.

Mr Hannan organised the school trip to CERN with Adaptable Travel. Below is an account of his experience as school trip organiser. An exciting part of the A2 course in Physics.

The students get to go to Geneva for 3 days and during that time there are a lot of activities packed in. This year was our second time visiting Geneva as a school and both times we have used Adaptable Travel and we will do again! Safe to say there were several things that went wrong and they were all from my end. Every time I phoned Adaptable in a bit of fluster, they were able to sort the situation and put me to ease, more often or not on the same day. This led to a very memorable and effortless trip, which the students and I enjoyed immensely.

During our trip we decided to use public transport as it was an effortless and efficient way to travel across Geneva (and free!). The hostel took a total of 15 minutes to get to from the airport and was a simple matter of getting a train for one stop and a tram for 4 stops. The hostel is in a perfect location for a variety of attractions. The ‘History of Science Museum’ is a short and pleasant walk, through the park which takes about 15 minutes and the UN is only another 30 minutes from there. Lake Geneva is only a 2 minute stroll away and a nice spot to have lunch on the first day! The hostel is well presented, clean and most importantly very comfortable. We have now been there 2 years in a row and so much has been done to improve the facilities and there are more improvements planned over this year.

On the first day the students got to visit the ‘History of Science Museum,’ where they got to see a lot of the original experiments that they have studied in lessons. This then led to a visit of the United Nations, where we saw the rooms where some of the greatest decisions affecting mankind have been made – a very awe inspiring experience.

The second day we went to the Natural History Museum, where the students in vain tried to find the 2 headed tortoise only to find out it was in hibernation for the Winter. From there we headed to the ice skating rink and to what I believe was the secret highlight for a lot of the students, trying to see me maintain my composure on the ice – I feel I managed that, others may disagree. That evening we all had a lovely meal out at an Italian restaurant where we shared jokes and spoke about the next day and the real reason for the visit, CERN. It is the home of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and they collide protons at very high speeds to discover new particles and to try to recreate conditions just after the Big Bang. Why? Well mainly because they can! On a more serious note the journey that the scientists take to deepen our understanding will herald new discoveries, which will lead to new technologies and benefit us all.

For our students the main component of the topic they are studying is based around particle accelerators and it helps the students to visualise what is happening and hopefully benefit them in the exam. This year we were very lucky as we were able to go out to the ATLAS detector, we were able to go underground to see the engineering behind the accelerator and detectors. We were also fortunate enough to visit the control room, where we saw (what we were told a very rare event for visitors) an actual collision on the monitors, this was exciting for all involved.

We are currently at a time where physics is ‘cool’ (possibly due to the ‘Brian Cox effect’) and this is a great time to get students excited and engaged in physics, a trip to CERN will help enhance your a-level course and more importantly get the students thinking about a future in physics.At our school we now have six students applying to study physics at University, whereas before the trip it was one possible two.

It was a great 3 days away and I know I can say that the students seemed to really to enjoy themselves and it was a pleasure to take them away on a trip that they will hopefully look back on with great fondness.

Written by Mr Hannan, Chelmer Valley High School