The 10th meeting of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) was held at CERN from the 5th to the 7th of November 2015.
IPPOG is an international network of physicists, science communicators and educators from all CERN member states, major particle physics laboratories and the LHC experiments, as well as some representatives from non-member states like the USA and Australia, which is the newest member of IPPOG, officially voted in this year. Its main goal is to popularize the scientific method through a variety of outreach activities aimed to people of all ages. The final aim is to emphasise the importance of research and more specifically – what is the purpose of big laboratories like the LHC and Fermilab and why it is important to study the subatomic world and the laws that govern it.
One of the best ways to do that is via IPPOG’s core outreach activity – international particle physics masterclasses, held annually in more than 42 countries around the world. During these masterclasses more than ten thousand high school students are invited to become particle physicists for a day, analyzing real data from the Large Hadron Collider. At the end of each masterclass students from different parts of the world gather together in a live videoconference with CERN or Fermilab to discuss and compare their discoveries and to share what they have learned during the day.
The newly created Twitter profile (@physicsIMC) is just another way to bring together all the past and future participants and organizers of the masterclasses where they can share their experience.
Understanding the importance of the digital world nowadays, the design and development team of the Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire has created a computer game, based on particle physics, which aims to explain the properties of each particle. The process of its creation was explained during the IPPOG meeting and the game is about to be launched soon.
Another efficient and enjoyable way to engage students with particle physics are the Cascade outreach competitions, where high school teams, supervised by a teacher, enhance their knowledge and communicational skills by preparing informative and understandable presentations about particle physics for other students.
A report from the Beam Line for Schools (BL4S) was also included, a worldwide competition in which high school teams propose to carry out an experiment with particle beams. Each year two of the teams with the best proposals, selected by a jury, are invited to CERN to conduct their experiment.
During the meeting a joint session with the European Particle Physics Communication Network (EPPCN) was held. Work groups with representatives from both networks discussed different topics like the physics of future machines (FCC, High-lumi LHC, etc.), how to handle apocalyptic prophecies when they are proclaimed in media and how to bring science education and outreach to big physics conferences in a more effective way.
More information about IPPOG and its outreach activities can be found at http://ippog.web.cern.ch.