CURIEosity meets ALICE in the wonderland of CERN

Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis, Yiota Foka and Virginia Greco

The CURIEosity team members with their teachers Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis and Panagiotis Asimakopoulos and with ALICE collaborator Yiota Foka, visiting the ALICE experimental site. [Credits: Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis]


Last month, ALICE was visited by a group of students from the “Dominikos Theotokopoulos” Lyceum of Herakleion (Crete), named CURIEosity team, which had been shortlisted in the CERN 2017 competition “Beamline for schools”.

Composed mainly of girls, it is a group of students very interested in science who engages in various off-curriculum activities, under the guidance of their teacher of physics, Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis. The name of the team was chosen to remind of Marie Curie and, at the same time, to suggest that its young members are motivated by curiosity towards science and experimentation. Their activities include physics demonstrations to schools as well as participating in competitions, such as CERN's “Beamline for schools”, in which pupils propose an experiment using a CERN accelerator beamline.

The CURIEosity team came across the ALICE experiment at the end of August 2017, by participating in a series of public events – organized by ALICE's collaborator Yiota Foka – which took place in Chania, Crete, in the framework of the international workshop “Ions for Cancer Therapy, Space Research and Material Science”. There, the team was given the chance to present its work and a series of experiments, along the three days of events for the general public, which attracted the interest of locals and  tourists.

The group kept in touch with the organizers of these events and, when classes started, they setup Masterclasses in particle physics in their school. Organized by the team of Christina Kourkoumelis at the beginning of December, the masterclass gave to the many young participants a feeling of the real data analysis performed at CERN. The presentation of the “Creations” project triggered their imagination and creativity, and the team  took part in the IPPOG/EPS competition “Particles4U

In mid-January this year, they could finally realize the much-anticipated visit to CERN. During three days packed with lectures, activities and visits, they learnt a lot about particle physics, appreciating its beauty, and discovered the top-notch technology used in the experiments.

The last day of their visit was dedicated to ALICE. The group was offered a guided tour of the experimental site and of the new exhibition, followed by the hands-on activity of the ALICE masterclass, which introduced them to the data analysis and the way results are produced. “A unique experience that we will never forget”, “It is incredible that we could have a hands-on experience of an experiment we were only reading about” and “It was very amazing and inspiring to meet so many women scientists” are only a few of the many enthusiastic comments of the pupils at the end of the three days.

 “Returning to Greece the team brought back tons of smiles,” comments Tsoutsoudakis; “this experience strengthened their interest in science and their wish to become part of the international community studying the secrets of our Universe. They will certainly return to visit CERN as soon as possible”.

The CURIEosity team members with their teachers Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis and Panagiotis Asimakopoulos and with ALICE collaborator Despina Hatzifotiadou visiting the ALICE experimental site. [Credits: Astrinos Tsoutsoudakis]

Alice Matters