Training the next generation of Researchers

Published on

QUASARs Dr Chris Edmonds and Prof Carsten Welsch have visited Chapelford Village Primary School earlier this month as part of their World of Work week. During their 2 hour long visit they introduced 60 pupils in year 6  to what working as a physicist may involve. This included information about the international nature of physics research, career opportunities, and examples from the accelerator research both Chris and Carsten are involved in. Following a brief presentation and many questions from the pupils, it was time for hands-on experiences to be gained. This included hands-on work with a plasma ball, as well as with a van de Graaff generator which made the hair of many in the class stand up.

The 10 and 11 year olds also installed high intensity particle sources within their classroom, and then observed the interaction of the charged particles with electromagnetic fields. Usually such work takes place in carefully designed radiation shielded areas, however, the activities at Chapelford Village Primary School were made possible using augmented reality.

Dr Chris Edmonds presented acceleratAR - the augmented reality particle accelerator app.

The particle source and magnets used by students are in fact paper cubes, which are brought to life by a mobile phone app called acceleratAR. Th app was created by a team of scientists from the Cockcroft Institute and University of Liverpool. Principal investigator for the project, Dr Chris Edmonds, is passionate about communicating the science of particle accelerators to members of the public, including our next generation of scientists. He said: “particle accelerators are a fascinating area of research – I wanted to give people hands on experience in designing and building one”.  The underlying physics of accelerators may be new to many of the apps audience, but Chris has found that even very young children quickly learn some of the basic concepts. “More than 2,000 people have trialled the app already. Overhearing a 7-year-old tell his mum that he was steering a beam of charged particle by using a dipole magnet was a highlight.”

The app is currently available on Google Play Store, and will be available for Apple products in the very near future. For more information, please visit