Dr. Hezi Yitzhak, a physics teacher at the Sde Boker Field School, and Prof. Victor Malamud, director of physics at the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben-Gurion University, are in the final stages of planning the trip they initiated.
Yitzhak came up with the idea several months ago, after returning from a delegation of 50 physics teachers from all around the world who visited the gigantic scientific instrument.
"I loved what I saw there," he recalls, "so I asked Victor, 'Why don't we take some students from my group and some from your group on an educational tour of the LHC?"
'We feel very proud.' Students slated to visit particle accelerator (Photo: Haim Hornstein)
Only few people have had the privilege of visiting the guarded site so far, including just two delegations of children from around the world – none of them from Israel. And yet, the Swiss permit was received and the project is underway.
"We feel very proud," says 16-year-old Idan Bergman, one of the children slated to take part in the trip. "Only few people have been there, while many physicists haven't, and we're about to fulfill our dream at such a young age."
In recent weeks, the students have been taking part in workshops and meetings with academic instructors from Ben-Gurion University in a bid to decide on the issues they will research in Switzerland.
The students will be divided into several groups, each examining a different issue in astrophysics research. They will all meet with the Israeli researchers working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and will hear about their work. At the site, the students will complete their term papers in physics.
"We would like to start pushing things forward and encourage more and more students to study this subject," explains Yitzhak. "Our goal is to turn this journey into a tradition, because once you get there you can no longer remain indifferent to physics."
The past five years have seen a 10% drop in the number of Israeli children choosing to study physics, with only 9,000 physics students last year. And yet, the level of physics studies in Israel is among the highest in the world, and an Israeli delegation won the first place and seven additional prizes in an international physics competition held last year.
"The great USA picked up only five prizes," notes a satisfied Malamud.
The cost of such a tour is estimated at some NIS 3,500 ($920) per student, with the Rashi Foundation funding two-thirds of the cost together with the Beersheba Municipality, Education Ministry, Ramat Negev Regional Council and Ben-Gurion University.