AUG. 8, 2022— Pal-Mac High School science teacher Joe Perry is known for taking his students on exciting field trips during the school year, but the trip he's currently on could be the envy on anyone, including fictional TV characters.
Perry is taking part in the International Teacher Weeks Programme in Geneva, Switzerland. The program is coordinated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Commonly known as "CERN"), which is a research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
"Where Sheldon [from The Big Bang Theory] wanted to go, I’m going," Perry said.
He's not alone, though, as he is being joined by 26 educators from 17 countries from five continents.
Throughout the nearly two week conference, Perry and his fellow teachers are learning how to teach students about a wide range of topics. This includes how subatomic particles, and high energy particles work. Perry says this will benefit students in his astronomy class, especially when it comes to demonstrations. He says it will hopefully lead to a new lab on subatomic particles in cloud chambers. Think of cloud chambers as a more visual way to understand how radiation works.
“Basically you’re just giving kids a touch of the fact there’s a world they just don’t see happening all the time,” Perry said.
The trip itself is about two years overdue, as Perry applied in January of 2020, and was accepted one week before the world stopped at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Before he got his "golden ticket," Perry first had to submit a 12-page application with four separate essays and a video submission.
Perry inside the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) in front of a backdrop because while it is on the real thing is not good for biology. 1.5 meters (4 1/2 feet) of concrete and paperclips still stick to the wall!
“To meet teachers from around the world that love and are passionate about science just overfills the bucket, and it just energizes me,” Perry said. “And hopefully I turn that around and bring it to the kids at Pal-Mac, and my colleagues around me.”
He joked that students were confused at first about him traveling from Newark to Geneva by plane. (Of course, he meant Newark, New Jersey to Switzerland) All jokes aside, Perry also said he hopes to spread some "Pal-Mac love" while overseas.This includes making those connections with his fellow teachers, beyond what they plan to teach in their classrooms.
Perry briefly set up a Pal-Mac flag outside of the International Baccalaureate (IB) headquarters. Pal-Mac is an IB district.