In a joint venture by physicists at DESY, the first Terascale Summer School took place online from 23 July to 12 August, providing more than 160 undergraduate students from over 30 countries with an engaging introduction to the world of particle and astroparticle physics. Following a wide-ranging three weeks of teaching, an impromptu fortnight-long online tutorial, which only concluded yesterday, focused on strong interactions and Monte Carlo techniques, allowing students to deepen their knowledge through practical exercises.
As the school had been forced online due the ongoing pandemic, the organisers settled upon a reduced programme with just one or two 45 minutes lectures per day. Active moderation was key, with students typing questions in the chat box, and the moderator interrupting the lecturer when appropriate, to give the participants a chance to speak up. This format conferred upon less brash participants a more comfortable way to ask questions, several students noted. When one brave pioneer had broken the ice, queries flowed every few minutes – a resonance effect characterised by a lively, stimulating and relaxed atmosphere which boosted concentration levels.
With its global reach and breathing space for students to explore concepts independently, Terascale 2020’s compact online format may merit consideration during less extraordinary times too.