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From Sunday 19 to Tuesday 21 March 2017, a group of 24 Year 12 students visited the CERN Organisation in Geneva to learn more about the field of particle physics. As well as attending seminars and lectures covering CERN’s construction and history, our students also learned much about the forces that drive particle physics and exactly what CERN is investigating. The trip to CERN gave Year 12 students a real world application of much of the science they had been learning throughout the AS syllabus and in the Particle Physics club that many of the students have been attending during their weekly enrichment period. The students were shown around the facility and given an in-depth look at CMS, which is one of the four main detectors at CERN. The Compact Muon Solenoid is a large scale detector which contributes to studies ranges from studying the Standard model (including the Higgs boson particle) as well as searching for extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter. The trip to Geneva not only gave students insight into the frontiers of modern physics but also provided an excellent means to develop their extra-curricular learning.

To supplement this, these students have also visited numerous university lectures on particle physics, covering topics such as the discovery of new particles such as the Higgs Boson, the annihilation and production of matter and antimatter as well as the fundamental building blocks of subatomic structures. In addition to these lectures, our students attended two International Particle Physics Events held at the university of Birmingham where they built cosmic ray detectors (such as the one found on the roof of the Marling DT Block) and contributed to international investigations regarding accelerated collision events using real-time data sent directly from the ATLAS detector at CERN.

Students were taught how to use advanced analysis programs to calculate the energy of the particles expelled from a collision and use the data to predict the path of decaying particles.  Using these techniques students were able to identify exotic particles such as Z bosons and the recently discovered Higgs Boson. Students also went to various lectures regarding extra-dimensions, string theory, cosmic rays, the Standard model and the study of fields and the mechanisms that they involve to further develop their understanding of modern physics.

Mr Steve Berry


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