A lesson from the “kidsbits” program, organized by IPP.

How do you attract the kids´ interest in science and fusion: invite them to the cinema and take them on a world-tour to the frontiers of science. In July, more than 80 students, pupils and teachers from schools in and around Munich took the chance and attended the live video conference that linked to four leading European research institutes, CERN in Geneva, ESO in Chile, JET in Culham and the joint laboratories of EMBL, ILL and ESRF in Grenoble. The videolink was part of this year’s European Open Science Forum (ESOF) in the Deutsches Museum, Munich, and was organized by EFDA as an EIROforum activity. Its intention was to give schoolchildren and students the possibility to communicate with representatives of the scientific community and by doing so hopefully raise their interest in research and perhaps a scientific career.

Rolf Landua from CERN, moderating the video conference. Photo: Hans-Hermann Heyer

After a visit to a huge underground cavern in CERN, home of the new Large Hadron Collider, and to the cold Atacama desert in Chili, where ESO builds its telescopes, the audience in Munich connected to the control room at the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham, where the two physicists Marco de Baar and Sandra Grünhagen explained the principles and the aims of fusion research. “When will fusion be ready for commercial use”, the audience wanted to know. “What is work like at an international place like JET? And, is there a chance for engineers to participate?”

Audience attending the live video conference, organized by EFDA. Photo: Hans-Hermann Heyer

After a final stop in Grenoble, where Christoph Müller explained live from his lab about the structure of biological molecules, the trip to the frontiers of science returned to the cinema theatre in Munich. Connecting a young audience live to researchers across the globe proved to be a very effective way of communicating the excitement of doing research, and giving a taste of what it means to be a scientist.