CERN Science Gateway will soon be opening its doors to the general public, and we're already looking forward to the excitement that will reign there: a huge number of visitors, of all ages and from all walks of life, are expected. Among them, the youngest visitors, aged 5 to 19, will be given special treatment: a tailor-made educational programme awaits them at Science Gateway.
“Many of the educational activities on offer have been developed especially for Science Gateway,” explains Julia Woithe, CERN Science Gateway education labs coordinator. “Before that, the S'Cool LAB, CERN's hands-on particle physics learning lab and education research facility [which closed its doors in 2022 in anticipation of the opening of Science Gateway], could only accommodate young people aged 15 and over. We therefore had to adapt and create activities for children aged 5 to 15 – a colossal task, but our team rose to the challenge with great enthusiasm.” Some school groups in the local area, as well as the children from the Jardin des Particules (CERN's school) – a particularly discerning audience! –, were invaluable in fine-tuning the activities.
Educational activities (for kids and everyone else) fall into three main categories: lab workshops, science shows and online content.
On the first floor of the reception building, two laboratories for up to 24 participants each will allow school groups, families and individual visitors to conduct hands-on experiments supported by CERN guides. School groups will be able to take part in various workshops lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, in many different languages and adapted to the age of the participants. The aim is to encourage teamwork and to make links with authentic research challenges and objects highlighted in the various Science Gateway exhibitions.
Scheduled in the Science Gateway auditorium or in the Globe of Science and Innovation(1), the science shows are aimed at a very wide audience, while being adaptable to different categories of visitors. The shows, a mixture of demonstrations and interactive stories on subjects as varied as the states of matter, particle detectors and “Frozen”, are given in English and French and last from 30 to 45 minutes.
“Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to come to Science Gateway in person, and it has always been important for us to offer rich and varied educational content online,” continues Julia Woithe. “These resources will also be invaluable for those who want to learn more after their visit, particularly teachers and students.” This material will soon be available online on a dedicated website: educational videos, online courses, DIY projects… – everything will be there to encourage independent learning.
Without wishing to turn all visitors into particle physicists (even if there’s the secret hope to awaken a vocation in one or two of them), the Science Gateway educational programme aims to change the image of scientists, by showing them as they are (and CERN guides(2) have a wonderful role to play in this!) – because science suits everyone.
(1) If you’re curious to know more about CERN and Science Gateway’s architectural concepts, read this article.
(2) Don't hesitate, sign up to become a guide! (If you want to discover the unlikely benefits of being a CERN guide, click here!)