The eighth edition of Beamline for Schools ended on 21 September 2021, when the two winning teams left DESY in Hamburg, Germany, with a smile on their faces and many fond memories. The team “EXTRA” from Italy and the team “Teomitzli” from Mexico were selected from among 289 participants from all over the world and won a two-week stay in Hamburg to carry out the experiments that they had designed and to experience what it’s like to be a scientist. Beamline for Schools usually takes place at CERN, but the competition has exceptionally moved to DESY during the long shutdown of the CERN accelerators. This year, despite the difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, both teams were able to travel to Germany to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The participants, 16 students accompanied by 4 teachers, were tasked with making the best choices for their research projects, working hand in hand to successfully perform their experiments – a very enriching experience for a diverse, multicultural group.
“We learned a lot, we always had something new to discover and even if we had to work hard, we still had a lot of fun together and we truly enjoyed it.” – Luis from Mexico
“I was surprised to hear the difficulties that other scientists had to go through sometimes, and that they still loved their work and science. One thing that we will for sure take back home is their mindset: just keep trying and be confident with what you are doing, the results will come.” – Clara from Italy
On 14 September 2021, during an unusually sunny afternoon in Hamburg, the teams presented their experiments to the national delegations, CERN and DESY representatives, and the donors who made the competition possible. The team “EXTRA” worked on an experiment aimed at detecting X-ray transition radiation, a phenomenon that occurs when a beam of ultra-relativistic charged particles crosses the interface between media exhibiting different dielectric properties. For this purpose, they built a component of their experimental setup and performed a series of theoretical computations that they will compare with the experimental data taken at DESY. The Mexican team, “Teomitzli”, worked on Cherenkov radiation – light emitted when high-energy charged particles cross a dielectric medium. Their experiment set out to compare the behaviour of different media and of light detectors, including one they developed themselves.
The teams may have left DESY, but their work is far from over. Both groups will continue analysing the data collected at the beamline and will have the opportunity to summarise the conclusions of their work in a scientific paper.
The Beamline for Schools Competition is an education and outreach project funded by the CERN & Society Foundation, supported by individual donors, foundations and companies. In 2021, the project was funded by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation. Additional contributions have been received from the Arconic Foundation, Amgen Switzerland AG, and the Ernest Solvay Fund managed by the King Baudouin Foundation.