Prize for students from waiblingen: particle detector for the staufer high school

Jule and Samuel setting up the Cosmic-Pi. Photo: Gottfried Stoppel

After reaching the finals of the beamline competition with an experiment, Ben, Samuel, Jule, Jacqueline and Erik received their prize. Read here what the students want to use the device for.

Waiblingen – Ben, Samuel, Jule, Jacqueline and Erik from the Staufer-Gymnasium in Waiblingen had to wait a long time to win after they were the only German team to reach the finals of the CERN beamline competition. With their experiment to research lightning, they were able to prevail against teams from all over the world. For this they had won a Cosmic-Pi – a functioning radiation detector – but it was over a year in coming. After various problems with delivery, the Staufer Gymnasium is now the second school in Germany to have such a device, says the teacher of the five students, Johannes Ehrenmann.

Outwardly, the profit is inconspicuous, but the students already know exactly what they are up to with it. For example, they want to investigate whether solar flares have an impact on how many particles arrive on earth, and will soon publish their results on the school website. A few years ago, researchers were able to use similar devices to create a three-dimensional image of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Ehrenmann hopes that this practical application will "inspire more students for physics" in the future. A school has even asked whether their students could use the device, he reports.

Participation in other competitions is planned, but with the demanding beamline "not every class can participate", explains Ehrenmann. “The group of students is very unusual,” he says – also because they would have sacrificed their free time to prepare the contribution. To reward the extraordinary performance, Ehrenmann came up with a special surprise shortly after the competition. It enabled a day trip to the Geneva research center CERN and a guided tour with a former employee of the facility. “It was impressive to see the control centers,” says Ben. He was also impressed by the "huge size". “We saw the first particle accelerator,” reports Erik. Given their great enthusiasm, it is hardly surprising that the young people can also imagine a career in the natural sciences.

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