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Science trip goes with a big bang as nations collide in Geneva

A group of teachers and pupils from five different schools across Scotland got an insight into working in a cutting-edge, multinational research centre this week, when they accompanied Education Secretary Michael Russell on a trip to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.

The Government's chief scientific adviser Anne Glover and Glasgow University professor Jim Hough also travelled to Switzerland with the group, made up of five science teachers and five S6 pupils from Portobello High and Currie High in Edinburgh, Inverclyde Academy in Greenock, Douglas Academy in East Dunbartonshire and Hyndland Secondary in Glasgow.

They were shown around the facility on Monday, and pupils and teachers got to meet the British scientists currently researching there, many of whom have a connection with Scotland.

"It was fantastic, even inspirational, for the pupils," said Allyson Dobson, deputy head at Portobello High upon her return, "It showed them career paths. One of the scientists there is a former pupil of an Edinburgh high school and for James, the pupil who came from our school, that made it very real."

Her colleague Jeannot Farmer, principal teacher of physics at Douglas Academy, said it was not just the pupils who profited from the trip: "Our Higher and Advanced Higher courses are changing to include a lot of the content that CERN does research on."

CERN is one of the world's largest and most respected centres of scientific research and home of the Large Hadron Collider, which is used to study the smallest known particles to build an understanding of the formation of the universe.

Mr Russell said: "Travelling underground to visit a large nuclear experiment is not exactly a regular feature in my diary, but it did make for one of the most interesting engagements I've undertaken as Education Secretary."

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