‘Physics on board’ sets sail!

In 2005, Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) introduced a fun new educational initiative called ‘Physics on board’. CERN is now also on board, coordinating the project’s extension to European level and the participation of scientists from Portugal, Spain and France.

School children at the Civitavecchia stopover (27/04/09), taking part in one of the ‘Physics on board ‘ activities, the ‘winch’, used to measure the multiplication factor of their own pulling force.

‘Physics on board’ is a science outreach project with the aim of stimulating young people’s interest in physics by transforming a sailing yacht into a real-life travelling laboratory, specially designed with secondary-school children in mind. The ‘Adriatica’ is a vessel made famous by the Italian TV show Velisti per Caso, presented by Patrizio Roversi and Syusi Blady on Rai 3.

As they sail up and down the Italian coastline, scientists from INFN, some of them CERN users, make frequent stopovers and meet thousands of schoolchildren eager to learn all about modern physics, and at the same time try out fun-filled educational activities on land and at sea.

In this, the project’s fourth year, numerous experiments and attractions have been devised on the themes of navigation and physics; for instance, pupils learn that the now commonplace navigational device, the GPS, could not have come into being without Einstein’s general theory of relativity.


A resounding success since 2005, this Italian-born project is now being taken to the European level. Any physicists living in Portugal, Spain or France who are interested in taking part can contact the project coordinator, Paola Catapano, at the following address: mailto:Paola.Catapano@cern.ch.

Additional information (in Italian only) can be found on the project website: