A trendy approach to education!

On 11 March, Lyn Evans, the LHC project leader, talked live to hundreds of students in Wales using the standard videoconference equipment available at CERN (see box below). The students were delighted with the presentation and obviously very much appreciated this modern means of communication with the Laboratory. A further lecture is planned for May.


Question time after the videoconference between Lyn Evans and 27 schools and colleges in Wales.

The Welsh Video Network (WVN) is one of the most advanced videoconferencing networks in the world, comprising over 80 networked video studios throughout Wales. For the LHC lecture given by Lyn Evans, no fewer than 27 schools and colleges were connected live with CERN. “This was a lecture for A-level students”, says Lyn Evans. “I introduced CERN and spoke about the physics we are doing here and what we want to discover. I talked about antimatter, dark matter, etc.”

The LHC lecture was part of the WVN lecture series. “This programme aims to bring guest speakers from higher education and industry into the classroom via videoconference, saving time and travel costs for both the students and the speakers”, explains Maldwyn Jones, teaching and learning advisor for the WVN. “Schools and colleges are also using videoconferencing for distance learning, collaborative teaching, student support and for meetings and planning”.

What Lyn most appreciated was the opportunity to push back the boundaries of science education and to bring it to a wider public. “It's not as good as an actual face-to-face with people, but you could access the whole world in this way!”, he enthuses. Technically speaking, the videoconference link has a lot of useful features: “I was able to see 5 or 6 schools at a time on the screen”, says Lyn. “The monitoring studio was switching from one school to another so that they could all see each other. And after my presentation I switched over the camera to myself. They could see me, and I could see them”.

The students seem to have enjoyed this experience as much as Lyn. “They were on the edge of their seats throughout the session! “, confirms one of the participating teachers. For others, this was “a realization that physics is not classroom-based and that what students have learnt in the classroom is used in actual scientific research”. Finally, teachers reported that students had expressed the wish "to take part in Part 2 if Dr Evans decides to present it”. Lyn enthusiastically accepted the idea of another lecture, which is now planned for 5 May.

CERN connects to schools

Videoconferencing (VC) with schools has a long tradition at CERN. The Education Group proposes this option to schools wanting to experience the live link with CERN. The VC programme is becoming increasingly popular among European schools. One of the projects of the Education Group includes having many schools from different nationalities simultaneously connected. "This would demonstrate the international nature of the research done at CERN and would bring some additional excitement for the students from different countries", says Rolf Landua, head of the Education Group.

If you are interested in setting up a video link with CERN, please contact Mick.Storr@cern.ch.

by Alizée Dauvergne