Science on stage

During the opening ceremony, the audience was dazzled by a juggling show involving dramatic light effects. They also took away with them a teacher's sheet explaining some of the scientific concepts involved in juggling.

Science teachers can sometimes be quite humorous when it comes to explaining serious matters, as those who took part in the 'Science on Stage' festival held at CERN from 21 to 25 November were able to see for themselves. The 500 or so participants from 27 different countries, mostly science teachers but also some university lecturers, science outreach specialists and students, had the opportunity to share their experience of the teaching of science. They also attended presentations and shows, took part in workshops and visited a fair with stands offering ideas on how to make school science lessons more appealing.

The festival, organised by the EIROforum (a partnership between CERN, EFDA, ESA, ESO, EMBL, ESRF and ILL), marked the end of two years of projects for the promotion of science in virtually all European countries, and the proponents of the most exceptional in each country were selected to attend the festival.

During the festival, delegates had the opportunity to exchange ideas and teaching methods, which they and their colleagues will be able to use in their schools. 'This festival and the two years of competitions that preceded it have provided a lot of inspiration for science teachers', says Rolf Landua, Head of CERN's Education Group, which presided over the event.

To allow as many teachers as possible to benefit from the numerous ideas presented at the festival, all the demonstrations will be available on the Science on Stage website from early next year:

Click on the 'SOS 1 FESTIVAL SITE' link.

And for those of us at CERN who are interested in finding out more about the event, here are a few photos of some of the highlights:

All 27 of the countries represented had a stand at the festival's fair, where teachers explained their science teaching projects and gave inventive demonstrations. The photograph on the left shows a demonstration of the effect of earthquakes at the French stand. Another activity presented at this stand won first prize in the 'European Science Teaching' competition. Pupils from two French secondary schools made two helium-filled balloons, fitted them with various sensors and a camera and released them into the air in order to find out what happens in the atmosphere. Prizes were awarded to eleven different projects altogether during the festival.

The stage of the Main Auditorium was the venue for many performances and presentations, including a light-hearted interactive show by the German chemist, Dr Andreas Korn-Müller, explaining the human immune system and the HIV virus using some amazing models.

The festival delegates were able to unwind at a performance of the 'Kosmos' opera, a show involving choreography, lighting effects and singing.

Another of the festival's highlights was a live link-up with the International Space Station (ISS) in the Main Auditorium. Twenty or so students had the opportunity to put questions to one of the astronauts in space.