BL4S: the next generation of scientists

BL4S: the next generation of scientists

Wed, 29/09/2021 - 15:58


The winning teams of Beamline for Schools 2021 spent two full weeks at DESY to work on their experiments.

1 Students work on their experiment at DESY. (Image: CERN)

The eighth edition of Beamline for Schools ended on September 21 2021, when the two winning teams left DESY, Hamburg, Germany, with a smile on their faces and many fond memories. The team “EXTRA” from Italy and the team “Teomitzli” from Mexico have been selected among 289 participants from all over the world and won a two-week stay in Hamburg to carry out the experiments that they conceived, just like real scientists. 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 could travel to Germany to make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime experience

The participants, 16 students accompanied by 4 teachers, had the responsibility to make the best choices for their research projects, working hand in hand to successfully perform their experiments: a very enriching experience for a diverse and 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 team “Teomitzli”

“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

2 Winning teams, "EXTRA" from Italy and "Teomitzli" from Mexico, pose at DESY with supporters, national delegations and representatives of CERN and DESY. (Image: CERN)

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 to the donors who made this competition possible. The team “EXTRA” worked on an experiment aiming at detecting the 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 they performed a series of theoretical computations that they will compare with the experimental data taken at DESY. As for the Mexican team, “Teomitzli”, they worked on the Cherenkov radiation —  light emitted when high-energy charged particles cross a dielectric medium. Their experiment strove to compare the behaviour of different media and of light detectors, including one developed by their team.

The teams may have left DESY, but their work is far from over. Both groups will keep on 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.