A “Grand Night Out” at the Laboratory

To mark the European Researchers Night on Friday 28 September 2012, many scientists from the LHC and its experiments came to share their knowledge with young enthusiasts from the local area and further afield.


“This third European Researchers Night at CERN attracted over 250 young people aged between 13 and 18,” reports Laëtitia Pedroso (Communications Group), one of the organisers of the event. “No fewer than 77 volunteers made themselves available to give these young people a very special user-friendly evening!” Their visit included meeting scientists, activities, learning about new things and, who knows, perhaps the inspiration to become a scientist.

The participants, who were selected on the basis of the reasons they gave for wanting to participate, had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend two or three hours alongside the researchers. They visited the CERN Control Room or one of CERN's experiments, ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, TOTEM or LHCb. The students were shepherded around on their interactive visits by volunteer scientists who made the event as entertaining as possible for the young people by organising activities suitable for the age groups concerned. While the older children were identifying particles created in collisions at ATLAS, for example, the youngest ones were reconstructing a jigsaw puzzle of an accelerator at the CCC.

Those who had really got the bug were able to extend the experience by visiting SM18, accompanied by scientists who helped to build the LHC, and by meeting women physicists at the permanent exhibitions. “There was a great sense of enthusiasm amongst these young people, whether they came from the local area of from far afield," notes Corinne Pralavorio, who is in charge of communications with the local area. “Many of them consulted the volunteers from the Human Resources Department who provided them with careers and training information."

Thanks to social networks and an effective publicity strategy, the latest European Researchers Night at CERN was extremely well attended including by young people from further afield than in the past. Some of the young people had travelled from Norway, the United Kingdom or Turkey, some even travelling more than 2,000 km over a weekend for this once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Laboratory.

This evening of shared experiences left its mark on the young people as well as the volunteers. The students left starry-eyed while the volunteers, fired with enthusiasm, were happy to have shared their passion for research.

For more photos of the event check the CDS photo selection.


by Caroline Duc