by Kostas Kechagias . Published: 29 April 2014

Fifteen students and six teachers of the 2nd Vocational High school of Giannitsa (Pella, Greece) visited CERN during the period 9-22 March 2014, funded by a European Life Long Learning programme, Leonardo da Vinci – Mobility Programme, project titled “Future Technology”.  Staying in CERN’s hostel and socializing at the restaurant for two weeks, they had the opportunity to get acquainted with frontier technology as well as to associate with scientists and staff from all over the world.

During their stay at CERN they visited ALICE and ATLAS experiments, the LINAC/LEIR complex and the SM18 facility, CERN’s Control and Computer Center, Open lab and the “Universe of Particles” exhibition in the Globe of Science and Innovation. They built a muon chamber (a large area multigap resisitive plate chamber) with their own hands; they took measurements of its performance using cosmic rays, acquiring hands-on experience on electronics, data analysis and particle detector technology used at CERN. They also had the opportunity to become familiar with the work of Greek staff and technical students. Gathering information on the opportunities and procedures for employment they realized CERN as a potential future employer. According to their statements this experience resulted in strongly motivating them to pursue scientific or technological studies at a higher level in order to come back and work at CERN.

Apart from the CERN experience they visited several sights in Geneva such as Palais de Nations, the old town, the Botanic garden and museums such as the Red Cross Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Ariana Museum and Science Museum, which gave them the opportunity to come in touch with a new culture.  

Overall this was a once in a lifetime exceptional experience, and all students were very enthusiastic about visiting CERN. Having a first-hand experience of life in an international research organization they became acquainted with the world of research at the frontiers of physics. Doing so they became familiar with the kind and scale of technology required, developed skills in the field of new technologies, gained working experience, enhanced their feeling of being global citizens, improved their tolerance towards difference and practiced their linguistic skills. They also improved their self-esteem and realized future employment opportunities.

The students and teachers of the 2nd Vocational High School of Giannitsa would like to thank Ms Despina Hatzifotiadou and Mr Panagiotis Charitos for all the hard work, their hospitality and patience who gave them the opportunity to live such unique and life changing moments!   

Dr. Kostas Kechagias is the Director of the 2nd Vocational High School of Giannitsa