Most of you may know that the popularity of natural sciences and techniques and the interest in those fields in schools have declined worldwide from year to year. This may affect many companies in the technical field, making difficult to ensure their well-qualified human resources in the future. Not only the companies have to worry, but this decline of interest at the young people has also other far-reaching consequences: the young people get alienated from the present world, since the world of the 21st century can not be understood without a basic knowledge of natural sciences. This problem is complex, but one of the major stakeholders to the solution is the high school physics teacher. Teachers should have to:
- improve the memory of students
- use inquiry-based learning
- improve their understanding
- create interactive classes (use of simulations)
- make the lessons more “fun”, more enjoyable
- improve student attendance
- improve concentration of the students
- evaluate students
Recognizing this, the world’s largest high-energy physics research institute CERN (Geneva) has offered to the member countries a program, where a group of teachers (25-40 people) can attend a one-week training program at CERN in the national language of the country concerned. This allows the teachers of the country to improve their knowledge in modern physics without language difficulties. All of these programs are available free of CERN member states disposal. Hungary was the very first country to answer the announcement of this “National Teachers’ Programmes” of CERN in 2006 (see http://education.web.cern.ch/education/Chapter1/Page3_HU.html). Since 9 years Beata Jarosievitz Dr. and Csaba Sukosd Dr. on the request of the Eötvös Physical Society in Hungary organize such an event every year, where the physics teachers can be filled with professional content and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm of the teachers will then be passed to the students. Teachers are multiplying factors, because they can influence thousands of students. This program has three main elements: lectures, laboratory visits, small group and individual work of teachers. Organizing this training we introduce some unique particularities in order to warm up the group of the teachers, and to build up a good team. After finishing the main part of the program in Cern, the teachers visit the Aiguille-du Midi peak of the Mont Blanc (3842 m height) before returning to Hungary. This brings them into a really different meteorological condition than before: lower temperature and much lower air-pressure. During the travel or in some spare time pre-organised teams do some physics experiments and show it to each-other to learn from each other’s works. The experiments have been selected, where either the different geological or the different meteorological conditions can be exploited. All these experiments can be reproduced also with the students during the real Physics classes in schools, of course without the different geological or meteorological conditions. These experiments are the following:
- Torricelli’s experiment (with water or with some solutions, not with mercury!)
- Dependence of the boiling point of water on the air pressure
- Measuring the radon concentration
- Measuring the radiation background (effect of the cosmic radiation)
- Dependence of the speed of sound on the temperature of the air (measurements made with smart phone)
- Geo-location using the Sun (at different places during the travel)
Other particularities of the program are the “Follow up activities”.
- Every teacher should prepare a personal report, and send it to us, for peer review before the publication on a DVD used for Education.
- Reports of the group measurements are also prepared by the team leader and send it to us for peer review before the publication on a DVD used for Education.
- Good resources are also published in a journal called Hungarian Physics Journal (Fizikai Szemle http://fizikaiszemle.hu).
- A follow up meeting for the whole group is also organised about 3 months after the visit, where all sponsors and representatives of CERN are also invited.
Summarized, I think that this teacher training event has a very big impact in physics Education in Hungary and it also leads to a growing community of teachers who visited CERN.
Article written by: Beata Jarosievitz Dr., Scientix Ambassador