Beamline for Schools: the worldwide competition is growing

Two high-school teams from the Philippines and India (shown here) conducted their proposed experiments at CERN. (Image: CERN)

This year, high-school students became full-time scientists at CERN thanks to the Beamline for Schools competition. In 2018, winning teams came from India and the Philippines, being the first representatives from Asia to win this competition.

Out of a total of 195 applications, the teams “Beamcats” from Manila and “Cryptic Ontics” from Mumbai were selected and stayed at CERN from 19 September to 1 October.

When discovering that her team had won the competition, Jinal Shah from the Cryptic Ontics said: “Visiting CERN has always been a dream, and now experiencing this unfathomable reality is something we're really looking forward to!”

The Beamcats proposed to measure the Bragg peak of pions in order to assess their potential for tumour therapy and compare it with the Bragg peak of protons. The Cryptic Ontics wanted to observe the effect of the Lorentz force on relativistic charged particles. Both teams have experienced first-hand the many challenges of experimental science and returned home with a rich harvest of data for further analysis.

Having gone through a whole day of safety training on arriving at CERN, the students had eight days of beam to collect data for their experiments. Working together in mixed shift crews each day, the teams also learnt about each other’s experiment, fostering cooperation.

“I believe the experience holds significant weight as it is not only a chance to collaborate with some of the smartest people in the world on a scientific project, it is also a taste of what conducting research is actually like. It is this experience that I believe will prove valuable to me … throughout the rest [of] my life” said Ashish Tutakne, member of the Beamcats team. His team member Sana Singru concluded: “This experience at CERN was absolutely incredible and it definitely has motivated me to go into a more STEM oriented medical programme in the future.”

The students from both teams used a fully equipped beamline at CERN to carry out their experiments. (Image: CERN)

Beamline for Schools is an Education & Outreach project funded by the CERN & Society Foundation, supported by individuals, foundations and companies. In 2018, the project was funded in part by the Arconic Foundation; additional contributions were received from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, Amgen and the Ernest Solvay Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation.

At the end of 2018, CERN’s accelerator complex will stop for consolidation work, so the finals of the 2019 edition of BL4S will take place at DESY in Germany. More than 100 teams have already pre-registered. Proposals will be accepted until 31 March 2019. We are looking forward to a new chapter in the history of the Beamline for Schools competition.