CERN Accelerating science

Centre aéré de l’Association du personnel du CERN

A Journey to Discover the Four Elements

Over the past few years, the Children’s Day-Care Centre and School (EVEE) of the CERN Staff Association has transformed into a summer camp for the four weeks of July. Every year, this summer camp welcomes up to 40 children from 4 to 6 years old.

The camp offers a rich and varied program. This year, the theme was the four elements of life, and the children set out on a journey to discover a different element every week:

  • WATER was the theme of the first week. What is water? What purpose does it serve? Where can we find it? With these questions and many others in mind, the children set out on a cruise, sailing across Lake Geneva to visit the Lake Geneva Museum in Nyon. All through the week, the children were able to discover the different properties of water by carrying out various scientific experiments. For instance, getting soaked can certainly help observe a simple property of water: it’s wet! Giggles guaranteed. The children made fancy hats and enjoyed cocktails, played outdoor games like pétanque, and built sandcastles in between splashes of water pistols and a garden hose turned on full blast. Finally, on the last day, the duo Axus and Mundi came to share their passion for music with the children and played a live concert. It was party o’clock at the summer camp!
  • Research theme of the second week: EARTH. Earth represents a solid element we can touch, that has a consistency, and where there is life. Throughout the week, the children learned that the Earth is a planet where human beings, animals and plants all live together. The children build a globe and planted seedlings they could take home to grow. They also went on a trip to the farm of Lignon, where they had the chance to spend time with animals and discover insects and other little beasts. The highlight of the week was a big treasure hunt around the theme of horses. The treasure was hidden within the summer camp. The children solved clues and looked for pieces of a puzzle that led them to the precious treasure. Finally, as every Friday, the week ended in a preparation of small snacks to welcome the parents in the evening.
  • We cannot see it, we do not smell it, and even when we finally think we have caught it, it escapes: AIR was the topic of the third week. Several arts and crafts projects were designed around the element of air, such as making kites and paper lanterns. The children made beautiful illustrations using paint, straws and ink. They also played physicist’s apprentices while visiting CERN Cryolab, where they tackled various fun and educational scientific experiments together with CERN physicists. Next, on a visit to the Treetop Adventure Park of Geneva, the children braved the treetops, swinging from branch to branch. But of course, safety is of primary importance at the park: a continuous safety line accompanies all climbers throughout each course and prevents any possibility of falling. After all these sports activities, it was time for a theatre show. The week ended with comedy, and, as per usual, preparations in the kitchen before welcoming the parents in the evening.
  • Fourth week brought along the last but certainly not the least of elements, FIRE. Thus began a journey back to the origins of man with Cro-Magnon and the art of fire. The entire summer camp was transformed into a cave for prehistoric men, and the children went from discovery to discovery in their fancy dresses, studying stones, rocks and other flints. Later, they visited the History of Science Museum in Geneva. This museum is the only one of its kind in Switzerland and hosts a collection of old scientific instruments used by Genevan scholars from the 17th to the 19th century. Then, the children got to meet the CERN firefighters on the Prévessin site. After a lesson on safety and fire hazards, they could try out fire hoses, put out flames with an extinguisher, visit the LHC simulator and, finally, go on an unforgettable ride in the magnificent fire truck, sirens wailing… Excitement was through the roof! And at the end of the week: Abracadabra! It was time for magic with several shows, each more breath-taking than the next, leading them to discover the world of magic and illusions.

During these four weeks, the children had amazing adventures discovering the four elements. They had fun and shared unforgettable moments with the other children, the teaching team and the headmistress of the EVE and School of the CERN Staff Association. A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them for making this possible.

We cannot wait for next summer!!!