Let’s quantum

A first-of-its-kind workshop at CERN saw high-school students coming to the Laboratory to discover the fascinating field of quantum science and technology



©CERN: Alberto Di Meglio, coordinator of the CERN QTI, speaking to students at the workshop

On 6 May, CERN hosted its first-ever workshop for high-school students on all things quantum. The event was organised jointly by CERN’s Quantum Technology Initiative (QTI) and Finland’s QPlayLearn team in the context of World Quantum Day 2023.

A total of 30 enthusiastic students from local schools in France and Switzerland attended the workshop. During the half-day event, the students, aged 15 to 18, were introduced to the fascinating field of quantum science and technology.

The workshop kicked off with a lecture held in French by Su Yeon Chang, a doctoral student in quantum computing at CERN. In her lecture, Chang explained what quantum physics is and how its fundamental concepts work. She also covered the basic principles of quantum computing and its potential and current challenges.

An interactive “Learn-by-Play” session followed this introductory lecture and was set up as a tournament. Split into small groups of three, the students rotated through seven quantum-game stations, gathering points based on the number and the complexity of the levels they completed in the games. Each game corresponded to one quantum physics concept, such as quantum states, quantum superposition, quantum entanglement and quantum tunnelling. While following the instructions provided and playing the games, the students built up intuition about the various principles of quantum physics. Supervised by mentors at each station, they were able to ask questions and expand their understanding of a particular concept before going on to the next game.

“We learned a lot in just half a day, starting with a lecture and continuing with fun and interesting games,” says William Schwager, a student from the Collège Sismondi in Geneva. “I would certainly recommend this event to anyone who is interested in science.”

At the end of the workshop, three winning teams were announced and were awarded first-, second- and third-place certificates. Quantum-themed giveaway items were also handed out to every participant to encourage further exploration of the various aspects of quantum science and technology.

“Promoting early quantum-physics education is essential to ensure that we can form a generation of researchers and engineers that is able to develop and use quantum technologies in the future”, says Alberto Di Meglio, coordinator of the CERN QTI. “By allowing students to explore topics that are new or supplementary to their curriculum, in a way that is both accessible and interesting to them, we help build the quantum experts and quantum ecosystems of tomorrow.”

The event was a great success, and it would not have been possible without the support of QPlayLearn, which provided content for the Learn-by-Play session. QPlayLearn is a team of quantum physicists, educational and social scientists and professional communicators working to teach the beauty of quantum physics and the impact of quantum technologies in an engaging and clear, yet accurate, way to everyone.

“We believe in the importance of science education and scientific literacy for our society. We also believe that the learning process can be fun as well as effective, and should always take into account multiple needs and backgrounds,” says Caterina Foti, coordinator of QPlayLearn. “Development of innovative interactive tools for multilevel education for all possible audiences lies at the core of our mission.”