Ottawa High School science teacher Jim Deane was anticipaing the first day of school this year after spending three weeks in Switzerland at the International CERN teacher program.
“I feel so energized,” Deane, who is in his 13th year at OHS, said. “I don’t even feel that nervous right now. I’m just ready to get there and start sharing. I hope that the enthusiasm that I feel is radiating from me through the year.”
He said there were things he learned at the program that he can bring back directly to the classroom.
“I have worked for a long time on bringing the computer programming side which is called computational physics into the classroom,” Deane said. “I’ve been doing that since I started teaching and have been improving it year-to-year. The work group that I participated in was a major extension of that which lets students work with huge data sets, 10 to millions of lines of data and the tools I got to work with there which are freely available and I can have my students work with them on their Chrome Books even, those will give them the ability to see the same kind of data display that the particle physicists do. They can then actually run the data get a data set and see what it was that made the scientist say ‘yes we have a particle here’ and that’s really exciting.”
Deane was one of five physics teachers from the United States to attend the program this past summer.
“It was a really amazing experience,” Deane said. “I knew that I was going to meet people from all over the world and make new connections and friendships and get to tour an amazing facility and get to know what’s going on in particle physics today. I think the depth and quality of the program was beyond what I expected and that was a pretty high bar because the people I knew that had already gone through the program called it life changing. And I would have to agree.”
In 2012 when Higgs boson, an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics thats existence was confirmed at CERN, Deane stayed up all night to listen to the event. That ignited a stronger interest in particle physics and he remembered scenes from the video cast of Peter Higgs, one of the scientist that made the prediction for the existence of the Higgs boson.
“One of the scenes was of him in this seat in this lecture hall and one of the first lecture halls we went into, when we walked into the room it was that same room,” he said. “Of course I have a picture sitting in that seat.”
Deane said the area around the facility was beautiful and where he was in Switzerland and France that he got to see was similar in looks to Kansas.
“My wife and I traveled down to Coffeyville and I was looking around and saw the round hay bales and it struck me that this looks exactly like the rural area of France that is around where CERN is,” he said. “Geneva is an incredibly beautiful city and what struck me most was Lake Geneva and its water clarity. I have never seen a major river that clear.”
He also was amazed at the age of the buildings and the architecture.
CERN began in 1998 and is held during the month of July. It is open to high school science teachers from around the world who would like to update their knowledge of particle physics, learn more about educational resources available, and collaborate with fellow science teachers of different nationalities.
Deane said he would like to go back to the area and take his wife. He said he was honored to be chosen for the program and to make lifelong friends.