4 inspiring learning resources to accompany a science trip to CERN

Wednesday March 22, 2017

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Science is an all-encompassing subject, and one that opens your students’ eyes to how everything we see today has been created. From human bodies to the universe, science answers the most intriguing questions about life forms and matter, yet it can still be difficult to keep the subject engaging. Physics in particular, can be tough to teach. The complexity of physics can often mean an information overload for students, but beneath the technicalities, it’s a rewarding and fascinating topic to cover.

At WST, we arrange school trips to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, which is proving highly popular amongst science pupils. An exciting epicentre of nuclear research, CERN houses some of the most complex scientific instruments. These have broken new ground in piecing together the formation of the universe, and have created a unique and unparalleled educational centre to visit. CERN has made several revolutionary discoveries since opening in 1951, most notably the creation of the internet, which pupils can learn about in more detail upon visiting.

To accompany an exciting school trip to CERN, we’ve found several teaching resources that will inspire and excite your students, providing them with the information they need for GSCE physics, and inspiring them to take the subject further in higher education.

1. Answering the big questions with CERN – infographic

At WST, we’ve created this fascinating infographic that highlights just how pivotal CERN has been in broadening our knowledge of physics. Showcasing some of the centre’s ground-breaking findings, from the discovery of antiparticles to the invention of the World Wide Web, the infographic gives your students the opportunity to uncover the background of this centre and realise the importance of scientific research – all the while creating anticipation of what’s to come.

Why not get your students to guess the years of the discoveries before revealing the infographic?

2. How to hurl a spacecraft into orbit – lesson activity

What makes physics inspiring is its application to real life; not just for your students, but for scientists too. This learning resource teaches about nanosatellites, which are launched into space. Smaller than ordinary satellites, nanosatellites have become popular in recent years as they are much cheaper to produce. This learning resource (Launch a Frisbee into Orbit) on NASA Space Place explains the process of launching a nanosatellite into space – using the same basic principles as hurling a Frisbee!

Why not try building a launch mechanism with your students to show the process of sending a satellite into orbit using this resource?

A school trip that inspires and excites science students, a visit to CERN highlights the extraordinary potential of physics. If you want to find out more about arranging a school trip to CERN, contact a member of our friendly team today. 

3. TED – Physics is fun to imagine – Richard Feynman interview

“Some people find science easy, while others find it dull and kind of difficult.” Richard Feynman, the award-winning celebrated scientist, speaks to the BBC in this pre-recorded, inspiring footage from 1983. Feynman was revolutionary, expanding the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, and assisting with the development of the atom bomb. Unsurprisingly, he won a Nobel Prize! In this fascinating interview, Feynman explains how materials, from rubber to fire, affect the behaviour of atoms, plus much more.

4. How to make a pinhole camera – lesson activity

What does a pinhole camera have to do with space? Well, NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spacecraft took one of the longest-exposure images of a nearby galaxy ever made in UV light, and has since been instrumental in expanding our knowledge of the universe. The GALEX images have exposure times of several hours, highlighting details that wouldn’t otherwise be visible to the human eye. A pinhole camera uses the same basic principles: long exposure that records photons.

Why not take your students through the process of creating a pinhole camera, then placing it in one given area? Download the instructions and give it a go!