Holgate’s budding Einsteins on inspirational science trip to Switzerland

GENEVA CONVENTION -- the Holgate Academy touring party by Lake Geneva.
GENEVA CONVENTION -- the Holgate Academy touring party by Lake Geneva.

It is the dream of every school to produce one or two budding Einsteins. Maybe the Holgate Academy in Hucknall will be the next after an inspirational trip to the former home town of the scientific genius.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) spent some of his formative years in Bern, Switzerland, so it’s no wonder that 33 students from years eight to 13 at Holgate were full of excitement as they paid a special visit to Einstein House and the Bern museum named after him.

At nearby Geneva, where the Holgate students were based for their three-day trip, Einstein’s influence helped the establishment, in 1954, of CERN, the world’s biggest and respected scientific centre.

The students visited the CERN control centre, which is the home of European nuclear research and operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. In 1989, it was also the birthplace of the worldwide web.

Led by head of physics Kathryn Brewster, the Holgate crew gained a fascinating insight into the the complex research methods used by CERN scientists, as well as the life and mind of Einstein. No doubt they were intrigued to discover that he skipped school and failed his university exams!

As an added bonus, the students visited the European headquarters of the United Nations, also based in Geneva. Passing through tight security, they were shown where organisations such as the Red Cross and the World Health Organisation take part in conferences.

Topically, they were also told about the work of the Refugee Council, and were shocked by the lack of funding given to help the current refugee crisis, particularly compared to the military budgets of many countries.

The trip included an unexpected link to Hucknall and the Dispatch district too. For during a stroll down to Lake Geneva, they saw the house where Lord Byron stayed in 1816-1817 while writing ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’, one of his most famous works, during his years in exile.

Entertaining blogs about the three days have been posted on the Holgate website. And as a result of the trip, the academy received a certificate of achievement from the Science and Technology Facilities Council “in recognition of the completion of their CERN school-visit programme”.

Mrs Brewster was left in no doubt about the value of inspiring youngsters to take an interest in science.

“I hope we were able to give an insight into the world of possibilities,” she said. “Even if there is a slight hope some of the students return to Geneva to work at CERN or the UN, then our job is done.

“Th enthusiastic and well-mannered students were a credit to the school, themselves and their parents. It was lovely to see so many of them come out of their shells, make new friends and show themselves in the best possible light.”

Holgate plans to repeat the trip in two years’ time, and is also considering similar scientific tours of Iceland, San Francisco and Florida.