lacern LA@CERN: Learning with ATLAS@CERN
European Commission, Lifelong Learning Programme

Originally developed at CERN as a tool to help scientists share information, the world wide web continues to be an important mode of communication for scientific inquiry. Rich science databases in a variety of fields are publicly available, and can provide a catalyst for learning. Schools, universities and science centers can act as mediators, organizing information – tailored to the needs of their communities – across scientific disciplines and providing tools for understanding complex scientific research, making science understandable and interesting to the public.

The LA@CERN (Learning with ATLAS@CERN) project brings together expertise from frontier scientific research, educational research in formal and informal science learning, and user communities across Europe. The LA@CERN consortium designs, develops, tests, implements and disseminates an innovative pedagogical framework that supports effective "dialogue" between scientific research and communities, at the moment when the new gigantic detector ATLAS is starting operation at CERN, to explore the fundamental building blocks and forces of nature, and to probe deeper into matter than ever before.

The project represents a reversal of science teaching pedagogy from mainly deductive to inquiry-based approach that provides the means to increase interest in science. The approach emphasizes curiosity and observations followed by problem solving and experimentation in both real and virtual settings. These pedagogical concepts and learning practices are addressed by implementing a set of missions (learning scenarios) tailored to the needs of the diverse groups of learners, employing advanced and interactive visualization technologies and also personalized ubiquitous learning paradigms in order to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the learning process. In the framework of these missions, users interact with a series of educational analysis tools that allow them to manipulate data and make their own discoveries. The developed web based educational environment facilitate the proposed process by providing access to near real-time data and interactive analysis tools, 3D and 2D animations of physical processes in a game-like approach, teacher-resources, student-centered materials, applications for educational projects and collaborative activities.

The Scientific Computing Laboratory of the Institute of Physics Belgrade (University of Athens subcontractor) is the principal developer of HYPATIA and HYPATIA Simplified Version applications and maintains the official HYPATIA web page. All applications and codes developed within LA@CERN are available as open source software. SCL provides and maintains the project’s source code repository.