Prepare your students

Why prepare your students?

Years of experience in S'Cool LAB, feedback from teachers and students, and empirical research shows that students who have been prepared for a visit to S'Cool LAB or a similar field trip generally have a more positive experience than students who arrive with no idea of what to expect. To help you, we have collected some resources below which you may find useful. Of course, you are also free to use others as well!

  S'Cool LAB Experiments

The table below presents an overview of our current experiments. Use the links to find out more, including safety information, age restrictions, key physics concepts and preparation material for each experiment.

Experiment Description Preparation required Minimum age
Cloud Chamber - Build and Observe a Particle Detector 14

Electron Tube - The Basics of Particle Acceleration


X-Rays - Medical Applications and Pixel Detectors


Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) - Medical Applications


Superconductivity - Resistance is Futile

  CERN: a unique organisation

CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, is unlike any other organisation in the world. It has many unique features, making it a model of international collaboration and an attractive place for physicists and engineers to carry out their experiments. Let's start with the basics. What even is "CERN" and what countries are involved?

Watch: CERN in 3 minutes
Read: About CERN
Read: CERN's Member States

CERN is over 60 years old! A lot has happened since it was founded in 1954... This film, made for CERN's 60th anniversary in 2014, shows how scientists from around the world can come together to promote peace and understanding across borders. When you visit, remember to listen for all the different accents and languages, and look for other signs of the variety of cultures working side-by-side!

Watch: CERN and science for peace

  The Standard Model of particle physics

The so-called "Standard Model" of particle physics is an elegant theory that mathematically describes the world around us. To test and improve the theory, physicists at CERN use particle accelerators to collide particles. They then measure the results of the collisions in particle detectors. But the Standard Model isn't perfect! CERN's work continues today on unanswered questions...

Read: The Standard Model
Read (advanced level): Let's have a coffee with the Standard Model of particle physics!

This film shows how our current understanding of the world has been developed over the last several decades, highlighting CERN's major contributions. Notice the interactions between theories and experiments over the course of history. You will also work like this in S'Cool LAB!

Watch: CERN and the Standard Model

  Particle Acceleration & Particle Detection

To understand physics at the most fundamental level, CERN must accelerate particles and make them collide. How is this achieved?

Watch: An overview of CERN's accelerators
Watch:  "From bottle to bang"
Read:  How an accelerator works
For teachers, read: Introducing the LHC in the classroom: an overview of education resources available

There are many types of particle accelerator. Physicists decide what characteristics an accelerator should have depending on what it is supposed to do.

Watch: "How to design a particle accelerator"

Particle collisions result in... the creation of more particles! How are these detected?

Read: How a particle detector works
Read:  the ATLAS detector
Look:  the ATLAS detector on Google StreetView

  Unanswered questions

So far, CERN has already made a considerable contribution to humankind's understanding of the universe. But there are still many fundamental questions to which no-one knows the answers. Here are just a couple of the questions, and some hints about how we -or maybe your students! - might answer them. 


The world around us is made of matter particles. But there are also anti-particles! In theory, all the particles and anti-particles which came into existence at the moment of the Big Bang should have annihilated each other completely! And yet, here we are, made of matter. It's a mystery! Scientists are studying antimatter to find out what makes it different from matter.

Watch & Think: What happened to antimatter?
Watch:  Does antimatter fall up?
Watch:  CERN's unique Antimatter Factory
Read:  The hunt for antimatter

Dark energy & dark matter: 

The Standard Model of particle physics, with its elegant mathematical descriptions of elementary particles and their interactions, only accounts for 5% of the universe! So what about the rest?

Watch: Where is 95% of the universe?!
Read:  Dark Matter & Dark Energy
Watch:  Could we create dark matter?