DisCERNing Particles at the Village High School
For many students studying physics, there is only one dream destination in the world that could possibly satisfy their love for the subject, and that is CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), the European organization for nuclear research, home to the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
During spring break, a group of 15 high school students studying physics and two science teachers from The Village School had their wish granted when they went on a trip to Switzerland and took in all of the sights that the laboratory and country had to offer.
“Visiting the CERN research facility was an amazing experience for me. I was mesmerized by the size of the Large Hadron Collider that comprises CERN,” sophomore Pavithr Goli said. “While doing research prior to the trip, I was wowed by the experiments and discoveries that were made at CERN, but visiting the research facility in person blew my mind.”
Despite being the purpose of their trip, visiting CERN wasn’t the only sight that students experienced.
“From the snowy alps to the Euro eats, Switzerland could not prove further how beautiful it is to me,” sophomore Divyesh Khatri said. “Though I didn’t have the taste for Swiss Gruyere cheese, I was amazed by the Callier Swiss Chocolate. The most impressive part of my trip, however, was the scenery - the snowcapped black mountains were truly beautiful.”
In addition to Le Gruyère, the cheese factory, and the Maison Cailler, the Cailler chocolate factory, the students got to visit Einstein’s house and the Bern Historical Museum in the country’s capital. They also took a day trip to Chamonix Mont-Blanc in France and had the opportunity to experience the snow. Finally, the group wrapped up their trip with a visit to the Palace of Nations and Swiss Red Cross.
Although the students had a packed week, they were able to leave with new experiences, exposure to foreign ideas and a change in mindset.
“Going along the science vein, however, this trip has definitely changed the way I view American dominance in science research,” Khatri said. “I used to think that America was competitive with its Atlantic counterparts when it came to the newest innovations and technology. However, I didn't realize just how far the Europeans had accelerated ahead with CERN.”
After visiting CERN in person and understanding its capabilities, the students hope to participate in the Beamline for Schools Competition. This international competition requires students to research and propose an idea for a particle physics experiment. If selected, students will have the opportunity to return to CERN over the summer and perform the experiment in the Large Hadron Collider.
“The great amount of revolutionary scientific discoveries and advancements was astonishing. I was also fascinated by the evolution of the equipment used at the facility,” said Goli. “From the original synchrotron to the current Large Hadron Collider, CERN’s continuous development and evolution was amazing and eye-opening.”
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