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LAHS student visits CERN

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By Kirsten Laskey

Alex Kendrick’s “The Underground Radio II” was determined to be one of the top science projects in the world. Recently, he discovered what other scientific innovations the world has to offer.

Kendrick visited the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s CERN from June 28-July 2. CERN is located near Geneva, Switzerland.

Kendrick traveled with 13 other students, two of whom were from Albuquerque.

CERN, according to its website, is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

It uses particle accelerators and detectors, the website reports. The accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors, the site explains, observe and record the results of collisions.

A high light for Kendrick, he said, was seeing the compact nuclear solenoid experiment at the laboratory.

To get to it, he rode down a big elevator shaft and walked through passages that featured cooling containers. The passages opened to a huge building that was terraced with computers. “It was humongous,” he said. “Just incredible.”

Plus, he had the opportunity to meet with physicists.

For him, Kendrick said, it was like being able to talk to movie stars.

The whole experience, he added, opened up his interests in physics.

“It really got me interested in physics … really excited to see a place where particle physics is in its prime,” he said.

The trip was a collaborative effort between Intel and CERN, Kendrick explained.

“I was really excited … this was a good opportunity for me,” he said. “It was like a dream come true.”

This whole journey started with Kendrick’s participation in the science fair.

After competing in the county science fair all the way through to the state science fair, Kendrick earned the opportunity to compete in the International Science and Engineering  Fair, held in May in Reno, Nev.

His science project, “The Underground Radio II” earned a Best of Category. One of his prizes for this achievement was the trip to CERN.

Kendrick encourages others to participate in science fair because of the opportunities that await them.

“Science fair is really good because it challenges you in areas that curriculum doesn’t cover,” he said.

It opens up participants’ horizons and pushes them to pursue other areas of study, Kendrick added.

Dawn Brown, Los Alamos County Science Fair coordinator, said Kendrick has been exploring areas that regular curriculum does not address since fourth grade.

“Alex is just a great kid,” she said. “We were really proud to have him represent Los Alamos in Switzerland.”

To be able to be a representative, really says something about the type of student that Kendrick is, Brown said.

The key to being successful in science fairs, Brown added, is finding an interesting subject.

“The kids just need to find something they are interested in. There’s something for everybody,” Brown said.

Some science fair participants have done projects on their hobbies such as swimming and ballet.

For her, she said, she encourages students “to just find something that you love.”