Wolgarston High School students hunt for the Higgs boson at CERN

Students from Wolgarston High School have been inspired by a visit to CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

During the visit on 4th July, the schools sixth visit, the 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.

Samuel Bailey and Jack Ellam from Wolgarston High School said, “The informative tour left everyone astonished” and “It made it very clear how our understanding of the Universe is advancing a rapid rate”.  Their teacher, Mr Neil Rogers, said, “ it was great to see the students enthusiasm and interest in, what are sometimes, very hard ideas and concepts, they were a credit to the school”.

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 Wolgarston High 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 Chief Executive Officer, Professor John Womersley 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.  My own research career began at CERN and I continue to be fascinated by its discoveries.”

Other highlights of the tour included a trip to the UN, taking a cable car ride to the mountains around Geneva, boating on Lake Geneva and watching England’s victory over Columbia in the world cup!  All agreed it was a great visit.