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Local science teacher returns from CERN with latest wonders of physics

20 September 2018

Teacher Chris Lowe inside the Large Hadron Collider.

Back from his inspiring visit to CERN in Switzerland to experience the latest developments in the world of physics, Assistant Headteacher Chris Lowe is preparing to bring new activities and resources to classrooms in the Rochdale area. His aim is to 'bring alive' particle physics for the next generation and make it relevant to the primary science curriculum.

Chris, specialist science primary school teacher at Lowerplace Primary School, Rochdale, was selected to visit CERN in the school holidays by The Ogden Trust, the charity dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of physics.

He was one of 10 teachers from the UK selected by the Trust who went to participate in the 'Playing with Protons UK' Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme, which involved workshops, tours and speakers. He was able to visit the control room of the Compact Muon Solonoid (CMS) Experiment and the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider - the 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets running between the Franco-Swiss border.

Teacher Chris Lowe in the CERN control room.

On their return, the next step for the Ogden Trust group is to put together a book of activities and resources based on their CERN experiences, which can be used by other teachers.

Following his trip, Chris said: "It was an amazing experience meeting so many like-minded people in an open and informal way and I have started to think about some exciting ideas to engage my pupils.

"I have the opportunity to teach sessions across the whole school, working with Key Stage 1 and 2 children upwards. I would like the children to start to consider questions like 'what is the universe made of?'. If we start with the smallest thing children know of and develop their understanding from there, they can begin to understand atoms and particles; it can make them think and stir their imagination.

"It will also be interesting for the children to know the story of CERN, why it was created and gain a basic understanding of the research that is conducted there. The growth of this world-renowned scientific centre is a great story to tell and the use of particle acceleration at CERN can be told through drama, art-work and physical activity."

Councillor Kieran Heakin, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "What a special trip for Chris. I know how enthusiastic he is about science and this really inspires children, which is delightful to see. I'm sure the children will love hearing about his time at CERN."

Lowerplace Primary School is part of the Ogden Rochdale Primary Partnership. Chris is excited to spread his experience, not only to other schools in this local hub but beyond through after-school clubs and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) story-telling sessions.

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