Teachers staying ahead of the game

Even though the school holidays are in full swing, some 40 high-school teachers have come to CERN to take part in the High School Teachers (HST) programme organised by the CERN Education Group (see box). Far from considering this as a piece of holiday fun, the teachers are getting their hands dirty and putting in some serious hours’ learning.

The High School Teachers 2009 at CERN.

The 3-week HST programme hosts dozens of teachers from around the world, offering a deeper insight into particle physics through a variety of lectures, visits and workshops. The programme’s ambitious overall aim is to help these teachers to inspire their students to follow careers in science. In the second week, they split up into working groups to evaluate CERN’s existing educational tools or create new ones. "This year, one of the groups is reviewing some of the CERN visits service itineraries," says HST programme manager Mick Storr. "From their perspective as teachers they can give us a valuable insight into the quality of our tools and thus help us improve them. Another group is sifting through the video archives on the CERN website and drawing up a league table of CERN videos highlighting those which provide the most educational benefit."

Did you know?

When it was launched for the first time in 1998, the HST programme had only 9 participants. Today, 35 to 40 people are selected every year out of more than 100 applications from all corners of the globe: CERN’s Member States, of course, but this year the programme also included teachers from the United States, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, India and, for the first time, Croatia, Japan and Australia.

In so doing they’re not only working for CERN and their colleagues, but also and above all fulfilling their mission as teachers by working for the benefit of their students. One participant, Juliana Mitrevski, has shown devotion beyond the call of duty. She’s from Australia, where schools are not on holiday at the moment, and has set up a blog to enable her students to carry on learning even while she’s at CERN: "I record what I do every day on the blog and describe the lectures I’ve attended," she explains. Juliana hopes her light-hearted, avant-garde approach will have the desired effect of triggering her students’ interest: "I’ve included a link to the video of the LHC rap and set up an HST group for my students on Facebook," she says.

Beyond the strictly educational and scientific aspects, the participants also appreciate the social side of this international programme. "When you’re working with people from 23 different countries it’s a real cultural melting pot and a great opportunity to compare teaching methods," notes Polish teacher Mazgorzata Karulak. "After three weeks together, the teachers grow very close and it’s sad to think we’ll all be returning home soon," says Terrence Baine, a Canadian teaching in Norway, who is attending the programme for the second time as part of his research for a PhD in Physics Education. "I’ve kept in touch with the good friends I made during last year’s programme and I’m sure it’ll be the same for those attending this year."

For more information and the full list of working groups for 2009:




The educational resources created by the participants can be accessed on-line via the programme website: http://teachers.web.cern.ch/teachers/materials/default.htm