Research Centres are the places where “things happen” in Science. New observations are made, new ideas are proposed, new models are tested. Clearly, from the viewpoint of excitement, a Research Centre is the place to be: Research Centres play an increasing role in the advancement of knowledge and technology. Because of their ability to assemble a ‘critical mass’ of people and investment, they contribute to national, regional and European economic development. They are therefore at the core of the knowledge triangle of research, education and innovation. Bringing students into close contact with the happenings in Research Centres is expected to be beneficial for their understanding of Science and how it works:
• Students are more likely be motivated to learn about Science. They will feel a sense of personal investment in a scientific investigation as they will actively participate in the research procedure and will add their own aesthetic touches to the different tools they are using for experimentation. Such an approach could help to make science relevant among students.
• Coming to contact with experimental infrastructures and gaining access to data from frontier experiments can the imagination, promoting the interest of the students to be involved in scientific investigation. They will personally experience the procedures involved in an authentic research project and thereby gain a far better understanding of science and engineering.
• Such close contact may also help increase their. Too often students accept the readings of scientific instruments without question. Once students get involved in the proposed activities, for example by performing their own experiments and observations, they should as a result develop a healthy scepticism about the readings and a more subtle understanding of the nature of the scientific information and knowledge.
• Students are also likely to gain a better understanding of the relationship between science and technology. Students will gain firsthand experience in the ways that technological design can both serve and inspire scientific investigation.
However, teachers themselves are also likely to benefit from such a collaboration. Being part of a professional network which develops collaborative learning activities, will encourage interaction and will provide them with opportunities to enrich their practices and professional context through cooperation within and between schools, universities, and frontier research institutions. In this way it is expected that such an interaction will extend the “dialogue” between scientists and the educational community, promote scientific culture in society and will help young people to acquire a better understanding of the role of science and technology in society. The Best Practices presented in the following pages will simulate the work of real scientists (even without direct physical access to the Research infrastructure). Thus, students and their teachers will gain a first-hand experience