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High school kids... with a "Super Science" twist

Fourteen students of ''Super Science'' high schools in Fukui Prefecture, in the Chubu region of Japan, visited ITER last Wednesday 14 March. (Click to view larger version...)
Fourteen students of ''Super Science'' high schools in Fukui Prefecture, in the Chubu region of Japan, visited ITER last Wednesday 14 March.
They look and dress like high school students all over the world—hooded sweat shirts, sport shoes and faded jeans. They are not, however, ordinary students. The high schools they attend in Fukui Prefecture, in the Chubu region of Japan, have gained the coveted label of "Super Science" schools, meaning that mathematics, physics, and technology are at the core of their curriculum.

The label was established in 2002 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) as part of its Science Literacy Enhancement Initiatives. There are only 145 Super Science high schools in Japan today, out of a total of 6,000.

The fourteen students, aged 15 to 17, who visited ITER with four of their teachers last Wednesday 14 March, belong to five of these elite secondary education establishments. Their nine-day trip to Europe included visits to ITER; the Observatoire de Haute-Provence near Forcalquier, where the first exoplanet was discovered in 1995; CERN; the Cité des Sciences in Paris; and, for a lighter experience, the Louvre museum.

At ITER, they were greeted by Director-General Osamu Motojima and Japanese staff members, and given presentations on the various aspects of the ITER project. Shimpei Futatani, one of the postdoctoral fellows presently with the Plasma Confinement Group, presented the opportunities offered by the Monaco Fellowship — an opportunity the Super Science high school students may very well consider in the coming years.


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