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ISM Students Leading Changes at CERN

11 October 2018

“Every person can make a difference: to the scientific community and to the lives of many,”

Those are the words used by International School Manila’s (ISM) Beamcats team in their winning proposal submitted to the European Council for Nuclear Research. 

Out of the 195 applications received, this group of ISM High School students were one of the two teams that won the 2018 Beamline for Schools competition funded by the CERN & Society Foundation. As co-winners, they were given the opportunity to carry out their proposed experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The Beamcats team are members of ISM’s Astronomy Club, which was founded in 2014. Since that time, they have participated in CERN’s annual Beamline for Schools competition. The team comprised six students with guidance from their club advisor, HS physics teacher, Brad Hill. 

The Astronomy Club were runners-up in the competition for the past two years. In their most recent submission, the Beamcats revisited the same topic that they proposed in March 2017, developing and expanding the scope of their experiment. Their final proposal focused on determining the viability of using pion therapy as an alternative method of cancer treatment. 

During the team’s two-week stay at CERN, the students were able to use the same software, analysis and graphing tools that were key to the ATLAS experiment, one of the major projects at CERN. “The best part of the experience was actually working like a scientist,” said Sana, now in G12 and hoping to become a doctor. Her fellow team member Sae Joon, also in G12 added, “We got to see what it was like to be a research scientist – it was a great experience overall.” 

As the team worked through their experiment, they performed different types of testing using pion beams. They revised their experiment to make use of proton beams as a means of enhancing their original proposal. Research for the experiment is still ongoing, but the team was able to make substantial headway with the collection of data using the sophisticated equipment available to them at CERN. The Beamcats hope to complete a first draft of the paper by December for a possible feature in a physics or scientific journal.

There can be few more compelling areas of research medicine than the search for alternate methods of treating cancer, and, despite their age, these students have shown the talent and drive that may make a significant contribution to the wellness of the global community. In their winning proposal, ISM’s Beamcats concluded, “Never stop seeking answers.” They never will! 

Click HERE to view the article published by CERN on their website.