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More resources for schools about inside the atom

CMS Detector
(Credit: CERN)

What is ‘inside the atom’?

Particle and nuclear physicists study the building blocks of the Universe and the forces of nature that influence them. Their research is fundamental to our understanding of the physical world around us. To learn more about why particle physicists are recreating the conditions just after the Big Bang at the LHC at CERN go to Particle Physics for you, or to find out why nuclear physicists study supernova to explain how almost all the elements in your body were made in stars go to Nuclear Physics for you.


Here we have a selection of interesting and interactive resources such as websites, films, animations, apps, publications and guides. These are suitable for a wide range of audiences and can be used in the classroom or for background reading.


A selection of videos to support your teaching of Inside the Atom related subjects.

More videos

  • Colliding Particles - a series of films following just one of the teams of physicists involved in the research at the LHC. The project documents their work at the frontiers of particle physics, exploring the human stories behind the research and investigating the workings of the scientific process itself.
  • In Search of Giants – 15 short films by starring Professor Brian Cox as he takes us on a journey discussing interesting facts about particle physics.
  • Radioactivity: Expect the unexpected – This TED-Ed lesson nicely explains radioactivity and how it can be both dangerous and useful.


These free printed resources are available to order directly online at the STFC publications order form.

  • A Tunnel to the Beginning of Time - An A1 sized poster of the ATLAS Detector inside the LHC.
  • Big Questions: Big Experiment - A full-colour A5 leaflet that opens out into an A2 double-sided wallchart describing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.
  • Inside the Atom: Nuclear Activity in the UK - A full-colour A5 leaflet that opens out into an A2 double-sided wall poster describing the activity of the nuclear physics community in the UK and how their inspirational work impacts our lives.
  • Teaching STEM through Inside the Atom – These teaching notes detail a collection of teaching resources available from STFC and partner organisations that use particle and nuclear physics – Inside the Atom – as an inspirational context for STEM learning.
  • Little Book of The Big Bang - A cartoon booklet that introduces particle physics, particle accelerators and the Large Hadron Collider.
  • What is next for the LHC - A full-colour leaflet describing what is next for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

For free CERN publications go to the publications order form.

More Particle Physics Resources

Particle Physics Resources

More Nuclear Physics Resources

Nuclear Physics Resources

Classroom activities

  • CERN@school – CERN@school brings technology from CERN into the classroom to aid with the teaching of particle and nuclear physics.
  • Teaching Radioactivity - A number of teaching resources developed by the Institute of Physics to support the teaching of radioactivity and to give students a more authentic and engaging experience of ionising radiations and sub-atomic particles.
  • Physics kits - Resources developed at Queen Mary University of London for students and teachers to use LEGO® to illustrate physics concepts such as fission, fusion and the structure of nuclei. The lesson plans, activity sheets and booklets cover curriculum linked topics in nuclear physics.

Opportunities for students

Particle Physics Masterclasses are one day events hosted by Particle Physics groups at Universities and Laboratories across the country. They are aimed at students taking particle physics modules at AS or A level, but are open to any student interested in studying particle physics. Every masterclass is slightly different, but all provide excellent support for particle physics in the curriculum and deliver a fascinating insight into this exciting field of physics!

Nuclear Physics Outreach Events take place throughout the year across the UK. You can find out what your nearest nuclear physics group is doing or invite a speaker to your school using this list of contacts.

CPD Opportunities

There are various organisations providing training opportunities across the UK teaching Inside the Atom related courses at different levels.

Inside the Atom links to the physics curriculum through the following topics:

Particle model of matter: Starting with the atom and the discovery of the atomic nucleus, then delving deeper into the fundamental particles and forces – the standard model, not only teaches students about the nature of matter, but also the nature of science. How methods and theories develop as earlier explanations are modified to take account of new evidence and ideas.

Radioactivity and ionising radiation: These topics provide great opportunities for practical physics: exploring the types and range of ionising radiation, as well as mathematical studies of probability and statistics through the random nature of radioactive decay. Examining half-lives can also lead to interesting discussions on the environmental impact of long lived isotopes in radioactive waste and applications in radioactive dating.

Nuclear Energy: A great example of how fundamental research into nuclear physics has led to real world applications: nuclear power stations generate around 18% of the UK’s electricity. Introduces concepts such as the equivalence of mass and energy to explain how the fission and fusion processes release energy. Can be linked to topics such as renewable vs non-renewable energy resources, low-carbon energy generation and the greenhouse effect.

Medical Phyiscs: Everyone will know someone who has benefitted from a medical procedure based on ‘Inside the Atom’ science, whether they have had a routine X-ray, PET scan or radiotherapy to treat cancer. These applications of physics can be used to link Inside the Atom to the student own life experience and to discuss the positive uses for ionising radiation.

CPD events and dates

The Science Learning Centres run numerous Inside the Atom related courses throughout the year, including a fully funded trip to CERN for state school teachers: SLC CERN study visit.

Nuclear Physics Teacher CPD workshops are also run by UK nuclear physicists. Dates appear on the workshop page as they are set.

Contacts and speakers for Inside the Atom

To find out what Inside the Atom activities are going on at your local University, or to arrange a speaker to come to your school, contact your local particle and nuclear physics groups.

If you would like help to find out more about ‘Inside the Atom’ contact the STFC particle and nuclear physics outreach officer.

Even more resources for schools

More resources (including STFC’s Inside the Atom resources) are available on the National STEM eLibrary, TES and School Science websites.

Return back to our main page on research about inside the atom.

Go back to explore our science and technology in all its diverse fields: Large facilities - from giant telescopes, to lasers, supercomputers and the Large Hadron Collider – helping physicists, chemists and biologists to understand our world and the Universe beyond.

Last updated: 10 April 2019


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