Prepare your students
Why prepare your students?
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.
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?
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 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
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.
Particle collisions result in... the creation of more particles! How are these detected?
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.
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?