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Wotton House International School students hunt for the Higgs boson at CERN

Students from Wotton House International School teamed up with students from Farmors School, Fairford to be inspired by a visit to CERN, Geneva, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

During the visit on 28th February some MYP5 students along with Farmors Physics A’level students discovered how CERN is helping to answer some of the most fundamental questions; how did the Universe begin? What are the basic building blocks of matter?

Scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of the Higgs boson require experimental machines on the large scale, and the students gained an appreciation of the technical and engineering challenges that the multinational experimental collaborations at CERN face.

Miss Kobylec, Science Teacher from Wotton House International School said, ‘this trip has been running for several years at Farmors School and it was great opportunity to team up with another school and give students a chance to make new connections and visit the LHC. This year we had a tour of a brand-new facility open to the public: The 600-MeV Synchrocyclotron (SC). It was absolutely fascinating.’

The Synchrocyclotron which came into operation in 1957, was CERN’s first accelerator. It provided beams for CERN’s first experiments in particle and nuclear physics. In 1964, this machine started to concentrate on nuclear physics alone, leaving particle physics to the newer and more powerful Proton Synchrotron. The SC became a remarkably long-lived machine. In 1967, it started supplying beams for a dedicated radioactive-ion-beam facility called ISOLDE, which still carries out research ranging from pure nuclear physics to astrophysics and medical physics. In 1990, ISOLDE was transferred to the Proton Synchrotron Booster, and the SC closed down after 33 years of service.

The UK has been a member of CERN since the organisation was founded in 1954. Membership allows British researchers to take a wide variety of roles that contribute to CERN’s on-going success; from recently qualified technicians and university undergraduates gaining their first taste of working in an international environment to PhD students analysing experimental data and experienced engineers and physicists leading projects or representing their experimental collaborations. The [insert name of school] students’ visit was led by a member of the CERN community who talked from personal experience about their contribution to CERN’s research programme.

STFC’s Executive Chair, Professor Mark Thomson, said “The scale of the science and technology at CERN is awe-inspiring. There is no doubt that seeing it at first hand, and meeting the people who work on the experiments, can influence young people’s future education and career choices.”

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