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ESRF welcomes first students for Synchrotron@School 2016


Today, the ESRF Visitor Centre is buzzing once again with high school students from the first of 27 classes that will spend a day at the ESRF for hands-on science as part of the Synchrotron@School 2016 outreach programme.

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Following the success of the two previous years, the ESRF is maintaining its outreach programme in partnership with the French "Académie de Grenoble". Synchrotron@School offers French high-school students a day of hands-on science and visits of the ESRF's beamlines and infrastructure. It is geared to show young people, male and female alike, the diversity of science careers in world-class research facilities like the ESRF.

For the current school year, 27 schools have been selected to follow the programme. Although the majority of schools are located in the Grenoble academy catchment area, this year six classes will be coming from further afield: the programme has been adapted in English to cater for foreign students from Germany, Turkey and the UK.

Aged between 16-18, the students are at a crucial stage in their orientation. The ESRF hopes that by offering these students practical insight into the variety of careers available and the rich and diverse work environment inherent to an international research infrastructure like the ESRF, some of the stereotypes can be overturned and students may be swayed towards a future in science.

Today it was the turn of students from the Lycée Pravaz in Pont de Beauvoisin, situated about 50 kms from the ESRF. For one group of students, the day at the ESRF was a constructive change from a normal day at the Lycée. "It taught us how to do real experiments, less theoretical to those in the classroom. The problems were real issues encountered in normal life and not just textbook problems."

The Synchrotron@School programme is part of a wider scheme of science teaching that spans the whole school year and aims to encourage students to pursue higher education and to accompany them in their orientation and professional project. A second aim is to help them become responsible citizens open to the world. As explained by Laetitia Faure Vergnolle, physics and chemistry teacher at the Lycée Pravaz, the students benefit from several outings including visits to the ESRF, CERN, Grenoble MINATEC and the LAPP (Particle Physics Laboratory) in Annecy. The scheme also includes a cycle of conferences by scientists on their topics of research.



Text by Kirstin Colvin


Top image: Students from the Lycée Pravaz during the experiments session inside the ESRF Visitor Centre. Credit: ESRF/C. Argoud