CERN, Europe and the world of education

In addition to introducing young people to the fields of science and engineering, CERN’s Education Group is also an active partner in several European projects aimed at improving the tools used to teach science. With its wealth of experience, the Laboratory is a key player in these initiatives.


After the construction of a cloud chamber, participants in the CERN teacher programme observe particle trajectories.

CERN’s Education Group has a long tradition of organising training courses and visits for students and teachers from all over the world. More recently, it has been involved in two European projects in partnership with universities, schools and various institutions in the field of science education. The Pathway and Discover the Cosmos programmes aim to promote science-learning through the pooling of teaching resources and expertise, and the creation or strengthening of networks that connect researchers, teachers and students.

The EU’s Pathway project, which began in the winter of 2010, focusses on the development of science teaching by inquiry. "In this context, we provide everyone who takes part in our training projects with the tools and skills required to build cloud chambers for cosmic-ray detection or to analyse real LHC data," explains Mick Storr, who is responsible for teacher programmes and head of the visits service in the Education Group, and represents CERN in the Pathway project. Pathway brings together teachers, scientists, science-education researchers, teaching-tool designers and policy-makers, and has also contributed to changing the way CERN’s mini-travelling exhibition is used. "The travelling exhibition has been installed in Greece for a whole year now and has turned into a stimulating meeting point where researchers, teachers and students converge to give talks, act as tour-guides or perform new, physics-related activities" explains the Education Group’s Angelos Alexopoulos. "It has clocked up more than 25,000 visitors to date! Pathway and its partners have helped us enhance the impact and attractiveness of the exhibition by demonstrating that a simple tool, when used by motivated and well-prepared people, can be a powerful vector of knowledge transmission."

View of the CERN mini-travelling exhibition installed in Greece for a whole year. Image: Ellinogermaniki Agogi.

More recently, the Education Group has added another EU-supported project to its portfolio. "Discover the Cosmos" aims to develop e-science through the shared use of tools developed in the field of information technology. Resources and programmes developed in particle physics and astronomy are collected on a single digital portal to help teachers develop activities and tools for themselves. In this framework, CERN and the LHC experiments make real data available together with the software needed to view it. Mick Storr concludes: "In short, what the EU projects do is bring disparate activities together to boost their impact. As a partner in these projects, we share our experience, teaching tools and resources with the other participants, and in return we gain better visibility and improve our own practice."

* The term e-science refers to the new scientific practices and worldwide data exchange which have resulted from the use of electronic networks, high-speed computers and the Internet.

by CERN Bulletin