Inspiring future physicists: Particle Physics Masterclass 2011

Thursday 24 March 2011

Students at ISIS during the Particle Physics Masterclass

Particle Physics Masterclass students Verity Germer, left, and Jonathan Gaffney, Bradfield College, Essex, at ISIS during the Particle Physics Masterclass 2011.
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The 16th to 18th of March saw hundreds of A-level students from across the country visiting ISIS to take part in the annual Particle Physics Masterclass.

The 16th to 18th of March saw hundreds of A-level students from across the country visiting ISIS to take part in the annual Particle Physics Masterclass.

The masterclasses are designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The event included tours of key facilities on the RAL site, including ISIS. This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to see a world-leading research centre up close, and to ask ISIS scientists and engineers about the reality of working at such a facility.

Particle Physics Masterclass 2011 students visiting ISIS.

Particle Physics Masterclass 2011 students visiting ISIS.
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The day also included a computer workshop using real data from the Large Hadron Collider (the world’s most powerful particle accelerator), at CERN.

The aim of the visits is to give students a real-life experience of a working research centre. “I had seen pictures of it, but it was really interesting to see the scale of it- just how big it really was!” said one of the students from this year’s masterclass.

“When you’re younger it’s hard to know what you want to do as a future career. I think coming along for this day gives you more insight into what [as a scientist] you’d really be doing every day,” commented another masterclass attendee.

Particle Physics Masterclass 2011 students visiting  ISIS.

Particle Physics Masterclass 2011 students visiting ISIS.
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RAL’s Senior Manager for Education and Public Outreach Jo Lewis says, “This year’s demand for the Particle Physics Masterclasses at RAL was high, with over twice as many schools applying to attend than there were places available. Pupils from the 29 schools involved had a fantastic time. They fed back that it was a useful and interesting event, and were very grateful to have the opportunity to meet real scientists face-to-face. Our physicists have really enjoyed interacting with the students, answering their questions and hopefully inspiring them to go on to study and work in physics in the future.”

The events, which originated in the UK, now host nearly 6000 students and take place at the same time of year in countries all over the world including the US, South Africa and Brazil.

RAL intends to once again host a Particle Physics Masterclass in 2012. For more information please contact Jo Lewis, or visit the STFC Particle Physics Department website.

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