What if high-school students could come to CERN for more than just a visit? What if they could come as researchers, conducting real experiments on a CERN proton beamline? Take shifts, have lunch with real researchers, Nobel prize winners even, and experience the ins and outs of taking data at a real accelerator?
In honour of CERN’s 60th anniversary in 2014, the laboratory is offering a chance to high-school students worldwide to carry out an experiment at CERN in a "Beamline for Schools" competition.
The competition mirrors the real way that researchers bid for access to the laboratory's unique facilities. Students need to first register by the end of January, then submit a proposal for a research project to be conducted at the beamline by the end of March. From next week, a series of live Hangouts on CERN’s YouTube channel will answer students’ questions. Follow CERN’s social media channels and the hashtag #bl4s to stay up to date.
The beamline comes fully equipped with an existing set of standard detectors that students can choose from to design their own experiment. Proposals will be judged based on motivation and creativity, and the winning team will have the chance to refine their ideas with researchers before conducting their experiment at CERN. They will then spend one week at CERN for their experiment, with the unique opportunity to join the accelerator operators in the control room and steer the beam to their experiment. The results are supposed to be summarised in a document, and – who knows? – maybe published in a scientific paper.