How CERN could inspire your students to take up a career in STEM

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Encouraging students, especially female students to continue to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) into higher education is an ever-growing problem in the UK.

As our world increasingly relies on technology, a rising number of UK businesses are desperate to fill thousands of STEM-related vacancies.

At Equity School Travel, we have seen a growing interest in STEM related trips over the last couple of years, and we feel CERN could be the answer to igniting your students’ interest in the world of STEM.

CERN; the European Organisation for Nuclear Research is located on the Franco-Swiss border and is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, which first started running in 2008.

The accelerator sits in a tunnel 100 metres underground at CERN, which also houses a gigantic complex of additional accelerators and various inspiring permanent exhibitions.

cern science careers

How does the LHC work?

Here’s the clever science stuff. Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they are made to collide. The beams travel in opposite directions in different beam pipes. They are guided around by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets.

Thousands of magnets of different varieties and sizes are used to direct the beams. The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is similar to firing two needles 10km apart with such precision that they meet halfway.

So, what is the main goal of the LHC?

The Standard Model of particle physics – a theory developed in the early 1970s that describes the fundamental particles and their interactions has precisely predicted a wide variety of phenomena and so far, successfully explained almost all experimental results in particle physics! However, the Standard Model is incomplete, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered for physicists, which the LHC will hopefully help answer.

cern switzerland

Top facts about CERN and the LHC

  • During a round of lower-energy collisions between 2009 and 2013, researchers found the elusive Higgs boson, filling in the last missing piece of the standard model of particle physics. This discovery is now considered as one of the greatest breakthroughs in modern science.
  • In 1990, CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as a tool to allow scientists around the world to share data.
  • The LHC is colder than outer space at -271.3°C to keep all those electromagnets nice and cool!
  • Scientists first started thinking about the LHC in the early 1980s, when the previous accelerator, the LEP, was not yet running.
  • Science at CERN doesn’t come cheap. The average annual budget in 2016 was 1.1 billion euros, which is equivalent to buying a cappuccino for every European citizen.

Dates to be aware of when travelling to see CERN:

  • CERN will be closed on 5th September 2019
  • The Laboratory will be closed from Saturday 21st December 2019 to Sunday 5th January 2020.
  • The Large Hadron Collider is currently in shutdown for two years of upgrades, reopening in 2021. However, guided tours and permanent exhibitions are still running!

Top tip from Equity

Combine your trip to CERN with excursions to the Emosson Dam, Bex Salt Mines, Nestlé Factory and the local Swiss city of Geneva for an all-encompassing STEM trip to satisfy all of your students learning needs.

If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how Equity can help you with a school group tour to CERN Switzerland then why not get in touch here.

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