Show don’t tell - LHCreate asks why

This year, the participants were challenged to answer one of the questions most asked by visitors to CERN "Why we do what we do at CERN?" (Image: Daniel Dobos/CERN)

Earlier this month, participants in the annual LHCreate workshop presented their most recent exciting ideas during a two-day event, designed to allow them to imagine the most incredible ways to solve our biggest questions.

This year, participants were challenged to answer one of the questions most asked by visitors to CERN: why does CERN do what it does? There was just one catch – they couldn’t answer with words. Instead, the participants were asked to design an interactive exhibit that would appeal to the general public.

As a catalyst for this explosion of imagination, we brought together people from diverse backgrounds at CERN (engineers, physicists, IT specialists, administrators, etc.) alongside design and architecture students from the IPAC design school in Geneva. Together they had 36 hours to imagine, design and build a prototype of the exhibit to be presented at a public event.

The winning prototype was inspired by the current trend for escape games; the twist is that the people playing are asked to break into CERN to learn more. The game consists of four different cubes around a touch screen and players are asked to solve a series of theoretical, experimental, IT and collaboration issues. Each solution provides a number, which, when entered in the right sequence on the touch screen, unlocks a prize.

IdeaSquare was bustling with excitement throughout the two days and, after the first few hours spent on the drawing board, this translated into manual work in the mechanical and electronic workshops and requests for materials that included yoga balls, Xbox Kinect sensors and springs. By the end of the workshop, the participants were ready to present their exhibits in both English and French to the public and a jury. The presentations proceeded very professionally and, after some deliberation, both the jury and the public unanimously selected the winning project, which will be displayed at the CMS site, the ATLAS site and the Tourist Office of the Pays de Gex.

More information on the LHCreate website.