Call for Beamline for Schools Competition by CERN (BL4S)

Deadline: 31 March 2020
Open to: high-school students 16 years and older from all over the world 
Benefits: trip to DESY, Hamburg, with covered cost for travel, accommodation and meals


Great things can happen when high schools get involved with innovative science, and that is exactly the environment CERN wants to create for them by organizing the Beamline for Schools competition. CERN is famous for the discovery of the Higgs boson, the invention of the World Wide Web, but there is much more to the laboratory than that. A large part of CERN’s research and development is carried out at so-called fixed-target beamlines. These projects range from probing the mysteries of antimatter to the testing of new generations of detectors.

From the first edition in 2014 until 2018, the winners of the BL4S competition have performed their experiments at the PS accelerator, door to door with senior physicists and engineers. For the professionals as much as for the high-school students, 2019 and 2020 will bring some change. The PS as well as all other accelerators at CERN are turned off for maintenance.

In order to continue BL4S, CERN has teamed up with DESY, Hamburg, the German national laboratory for particle physics, accelerators and photon science. Like CERN, DESY operates several large accelerators. Its flagship, the European XFEL, produces intense flashes of X-rays that will allow scientists to map atomic details of viruses, film chemical reactions, and study the processes in the interior of planets. Links between CERN and DESY have traditionally been strong and researchers of either organization participate actively in the research programmes of the other.

Despite the high demand for beam time from professional physicists, DESY has reserved time at its “DESY II” electron / position accelerator. The winners of BL4S 2020 will perform their experiments at these facilities and will receive support from their experts.


High-school students from all over the world aged 16 and older on the first day of their visit at the laboratory (usually September or October of the year of the competition) are eligible. Younger students may form part of entering teams, but they cannot be invited in case of winning te competition. Participants must be in high/secondary school when submitting the proposal.


The main prize is trip of about two weeks to DESY to carry out their experiments in autumn 2020. Each winning team can have a maximum of 11 people (up to nine students and up to two accompanying adults). BL4S will cover the full costs including travel, accommodation and meals. Members of the school that do not come to DESY will still be able to take part in the data analysis and participate in the experiment via the exchange of web-based data.

The teams that make it with their proposals into the shortlist will receive: A particle detector (CosmicPi) for their school  and One BL4S T-shirt for each member .

All team members that submit a complete proposal as a team receive a certificate of participation. .

How to apply

First step is online registration of the team on the link. Registration will require: Team name, Country/countries and mail address of the team coach. By registering you will give them the possibility to provide you with additional information such as supplementary documentation, mail addresses of physicists that you may contact for help or reminders of deadlines.
The second step is submission of the proposal on this link. This is the mandatory step that enters a team into the competition. It requires some information about the team and its members, contact information and very important:

  • A written proposal of up to 1000 words that explains:
    • Briefly (around 100 words) why you want to come to participate
    • In detail (around 800 words) how you would like to use the particle beamline for your experiment.
    • Briefly (around 100 words) what you hope to take away from the experience.
  • 1-minute video that summarizes your written proposal in an original, creative, entertaining way and introduces the members of the team.

The submission has to be done by an adult, usually the team coach and must be made in English
Note that for the selection of the winners, both the written proposal and the video will be judged.

For more information please check the official web page.