A school of excellence, Italy on the podium in the CERN BeamLine for Schools Competition
Great satisfaction at the ability of Italian schools to cultivate talent and bring young people closer to science and research was expressed at Farnesina, during a special awards event in the context of the CERN BeamLine for Schools Competition.
To be awarded were two groups of students, one from Fermo and the other one from Florence, the winners of the 2017 edition and the 2015 edition, respectively, of the prestigious competition that invites high-school students to gain practical experience at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, based in Geneva.
Italy is the only country to have won this international competition twice. This record was celebrated in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and of the Ministry of Education, University and Research, together with CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti and the President of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics Fernando Ferroni.
Now in its fifth edition, BeamLine for Schools gives groups of students from around the world the opportunity to perform their own scientific experiments at the world’s largest fundamental physics research centre. Each year, two winning groups are selected from the over 150 schools and 1,500 students participating in the competition. The challenge is tough: school projects are evaluated by the same committee that selects CERN scientific experiments.
Italy’s double success is, therefore, particularly important.
“It was thanks to the great work done to promote the initiative but also to the quality of our schools, which is excellent”, said CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti, “and thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication and resourcefulness of the teachers”.
In the 2017 edition, students from Liceo Scientifico T.C. Onesti of Fermo, in the Marche region, led by Professor Maria Rita Felici, stood on the podium together with a Canadian team. Through a two-year programme that involved two classes, the students had the opportunity to build a Cherenkov light detector, aimed at capturing a particular physical effect, with applications also in the medical field. The main objective of the project was to follow a didactic programme on light with an experimental approach, explained Professor Felici. But the unexpected victory allowed them to successfully verify the operation of their detector at CERN.
Students from Liceo Scientifico Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence, led by Professor Manuela Lima, won the 2015 edition together with a group of students from South Africa. With the Leo4G More than a webcam project, the Italian students tested at CERN the idea of using a standard webcam, which was suitably modified, to obtain the image of a particle beam. After leaving high school, many students from the group chose a scientific faculty, like Sabrina Giorgetti, now in her second year of Physics, told us.
Attracting young talent to scientific research is not the only objective of the competition promoted by CERN, as Fabiola Gianotti explained. More generally, this kind of initiative offers students the opportunity to acquire useful skills for life, such as how to design a project, work in a team, be creative, solve problems, summarize. To find out, perhaps, that you can do important things in the same spirit in which you go to an amusement park, as Fernando Ferroni suggested at the end of the event.
Schools are invited to participate in the new edition of the competition. There is time to register until 31 March 2018.