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Pascack Valley Students Venture To Europe To Explore Science

PVHS students poses atop the Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria, one of their stops during a science-themed spring break trip to Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
PVHS students poses atop the Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria, one of their stops during a science-themed spring break trip to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Photo Credit: Mary Doherty

HILLSDALE, N.J. -- Pascack Valley High School students embarked on a seminal trip to explore science in Switzerland, Germany and Austria during spring break.

Science teachers Cindy Reese and Christopher Nilsen custom designed a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for 26 students that took place at the end of April. The trip was devised for students to investigate science outside of the classroom.

A highlight of the trip was an in-depth tour of the CERN -- the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or "Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire," in French -- in Geneva, Switzerland. At the CERN, students learned about the Large Hadron Collider and participated in a rare underground experience to the Compact Muon Solenoid, a general-purpose detector at the LHC.

Students also went on an extensive tour of the Garching Nuclear Reactor, which provides neutrons for science, technology and the creation of radiation-based medicine for tumor therapy, in Garching, Germany, near Munich.

Although science was the main theme, other attractions were also on the itinerary. The group toured the United Nations in Geneva; ascended Mt. Rigi in Lucerne in the snow, via boat, cable car and train; and experienced a Black Forest farm, which produced milk for the homemade cheese and sausages they sampled.

The students also swam in a natural hot spring in the Black Forest of Germany; experienced the largest amusement park in Europe, Europa-Park; and climbed to the top of the rock on the Rhine Falls. A BMW factory tour; a visit to Salzburg, Austria, famed as the location for "The Sound of Music"; a descent into a salt mine to learn about the history and processing of salt; and a tour of Dachau, site of a concentration camp in Munich, rounded out the travel plan.

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