In Summer 2018, Assistant Headteacher Chris Lowe took part in the ‘Playing with Protons’ primary CPD programme at CERN. Now, he has brought that science to primary students in Rochdale with a CERN Day at Lowerplace Primary School.
One hundred and eighty students took part in the day, which started with a message from Dr Clara Nellist – a scientist at CERN. After that inspiring start, the children began to explore the history of the universe: creating their own timeline, as they started to understand how long ago the Big Bang was, when dinosaurs walked the planet, and when life on Earth began. The children continued their own research, as they asked the big questions about the universe, adding pictures and facts to their timeline.
After grappling with the huge history of the universe, the children delved down to life at an atomic scale as they worked in groups at the Atomic Games. Using coloured balls, the pupils had to add the correct number of protons, neutrons and electrons to an atomic shell (a hula-hoop!). Children competed to become the Atomic Games champion.
The children then created their own atoms out of paper plates, applying their new knowledge of what is inside an atom and how to use the atomic mass and number to determine the number of protons, neutrons and electrons.
“I always wanted to follow up from my trip to CERN with a special day for pupils and I’m delighted with how engaged and interested they all were,” explained Chris. “I’m really passionate about getting young people interested in science and opening up that career field for them. The children were able to get a flavour of the awe and wonder of current developments in particle physics, cosmology and engineering that make CERN one of the most exciting science facilities on the planet.”