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iThemba LABS Excursion: Unveiling the World of Particle Acceleration

On Wednesday, the 2nd of August, Wynberg Grade 10 students embarked on an extraordinary journey to iThemba LABS, an iconic facility that introduced them to the captivating world of particle acceleration and its implications on a submicroscopic scale. The excursion was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, offering them a glimpse into the fascinating realm of science and discovery.

The day began with a comprehensive introduction to the concept of particle acceleration. The boys were enthralled as they learned how scientists propel subatomic particles to incredible speeds using advanced technology. This fundamental concept underpins modern scientific research and is crucial in understanding the mysteries of our universe.

One of the highlights of the visit was an exclusive tour of the SSC (Separation Sector Cyclotron) control room and vaults. While operations were decommissioned at the time, the students had the chance to witness where cutting-edge research takes place. The awe-inspiring visit to the SSC control room offered a glimpse into the sophisticated equipment that scientists once used to conduct groundbreaking experiments.

Furthermore, the boys were given the unique opportunity to “Speed Date a Scientist.” They interacted with various scientists working at iThemba LABS, gaining insights into their respective research areas. The scientists shared their expertise on radiation for cancer treatment, nuclear physics, and other intriguing topics. The face-to-face interactions with these knowledgeable researchers left a lasting impact on these young minds, igniting curiosity and fascination for scientific pursuits.

As part of the experience, the boys were also engaged in a hands-on activity where they constructed their very own DC motors. This activity not only provided them with a practical understanding of the principles of electromagnetism but also allowed them to grasp the basics of cyclotrons – the machines used for particle acceleration. Building their motors served as an exciting way to reinforce their learning and encouraged them to explore further the world of physics and engineering.

The entire excursion was an extraordinary adventure that left them inspired and motivated. Many young minds discovered new passions and interests in the realm of scientific research. The exposure to cutting-edge facilities and the chance to interact with scientists allowed them to envision a future where they, too, could make significant contributions to the world of science.

The visit to iThemba LABS undoubtedly served as a catalyst for nurturing budding scientists among our Grade 10s. It reinforced the importance of scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and hands-on exploration. We are confident that this experience will continue to resonate with them for years to come, fostering a generation of curious and ambitious individuals ready to take on the challenges of the future.

A special thanks to the staff at iThemba LABS for making this excursion possible and for their dedication to inspiring the next generation of scientists. We look forward to more such enriching experiences that nurture the spirit of exploration and curiosity in our Wynberg men, the innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow.

Ms Kayla Hoey
Subject Head: Physical Sciences

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