CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research

Expand Your Horizons




Monica Dunford


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To foster young girls' interest in science and math courses and to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math


Expand Your Horizons is an international organization with the goal of promoting science and technology careers to young girls. In November of 2011, the second "Expand Your Horizons" conference in Geneva took place. This is an interactive workshop where 250 girls aged 9-14 years from France and Switzerland in the Geneva area were invited to participate. The girls are invited for a full day on a Saturday to come and take part in hands-on workshop lead by scientists, engineers and women in non-traditional fields. The idea is to make scientific and technical careers attractive to young girls before they decide what kind of a career they want.  
CERN organized three different workshops for this event as well as for the event held in 2009. In the first workshop, called Seeing the invisible: come reveal cosmic rays (Voir l’invisible: viens démasquer des rayons cosmiques), the girls built their own cloud chamber and then observed cosmic rays in the atmosphere. In the second workshop, called Any cooler and you freeze! Great cold fun and treats with liquid nitrogen (Plus froid que ça et tu figes! Plaisir glacial et régal à l’azote liquide), the girls had the opportunity to see how superconductivity works at the LHC. We also did several experiments with liquid nitrogen showing how materials change when they become very cold. At the end, we made liquid nitrogen icecream (a huge hit!). In the third workshop, called Questions without answers: the most mysterious stuff from CERN (Questions sans réponses: les trucs les plus mystérieux du CERN),  the girls had a chance to explore some of the unknown questions being addressed today at CERN. We used multiple hand-on experiments, which were developed for the tram exposition on what is dark matter, how the Higgs force affects us. The girls also got to build their own accelerator using a salad bowl! Finally, we also had a 'career booth' where all the girls had the opportunity to talk with female physicists at CERN and learn more about the day-to-day life of being a particle physicist. At the booth, we used the particle zoo, the ATLAS pop-up book and other props to explain the physics of the LHC. 
The event took place at The University of Geneva, Sciences II & III. It was organized by a volunteer group from local Geneva companies. For the CERN workshops, these were organized by 25 women from ATLAS and CMS. We received funding from the Marie Curie - ACEOLE project for a USB stick to give to every girl. For each girl attending one of the CERN workshops, they received also a magic blocks explaining particle physics (courtesy of the CERN education program). Each of the three workshops was run three times with roughly 20 girls attending each session. Each workshop was done twice in French and once in English.  
Photos of the events are here:  
Summary in the CERN bulletin: 
The main page of expand your horizons:

Post date: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 — 10:34
Updated date: Wed, Nov 21, 2012 — 02:34

Learning Topics

Life as a Physicist
Process of Discovery