Who is giving talks about the ILC for students? Many places. Oshu has provided talks for every second year junior high school student in the city since 2014, and Ichinoseki and the Southern Iwate Regional Development Bureau are also providing classes for junior high school students. I could go on: local newspapers send their reporters out for talks, and a group of students at Iwate University has been doing so as well.

Most of these talks are for junior high school students. In Oshu, we tried something new: we would hold classes for elementary school students (5th and 6th graders) and city employees would teach these themselves.

Elementary schools are busy, so we decided to make these classes opt-in instead of mandatory. Last year, the year we started, we gave talks for 7 schools (out of 27), or 8 schools if you count a similar talk held for students and the PTA at another elementary school. I was lucky enough to participate in these with my colleagues, Kotaro “Jack” Watanabe and Hidekazu Takahashi.

I’ll be honest: I was worried how well talks about the ILC would translate to an audience of elementary schoolers. Should we start talking to these kids about elementary particles when they hadn’t learned about atoms yet? If we didn’t do this right and tried to explain too much, and badly, we’d end up sounding like the technobabble from Star Trek. I had enough memories of squirming children from failed lessons during my English teaching days to imagine how that would turn out.

Fortunately, we already had a powerful “weapon” at our disposal: the charming 24-minute video explaining the ILC for schoolchildren created by Iwate Prefecture. (Viewable here with English subtitles, or you can click on the video below) It’s got puppets. It compares the universe’s expansion to raisin bread. It also explains the key points of the ILC: what, where, and why. We decided to start our talks with this video, and I think that was a good move. The children watched the whole thing with interest, and so did the teachers behind them.

(Click the subtitles option from the button that looks like a gear)

We combined the video with another powerful tool: the prize. We told children that if they got all three answers to a quiz about the ILC correct, they would get Way Cool clear files decorated with a message about the ILC and some local Oshu attractions. This was also pretty effective.

After the video, we gave the quiz and our talk through a PowerPoint presentation.

We wanted the students to get a general idea of the ILC, and relate that to their lives as much as possible. Thus, the ultimate length of the ILC (50 km) became about 250 times around the school track. We showed them a map of where their school was in relation to the candidate site. The timeline for building and starting the ILC was expressed in how old these students would be: they would be middle schoolers by the time the Japanese government decided on the ILC, and they would be around 24 by the time the ILC was completely built and started running.


From Hada Elementary School talk: students were 3rd to 6th graders so gave two examples of what their ages would be during decision and building process.

We also talked about jobs: that the ILC would create many kinds of jobs, including but definitely not restricted to scientists. The community would also change and develop. For example, there could be more international residents, and there might be more facilities in the area. At the end of the talk, we asked students how their future dreams could relate to the ILC, and got responses from “I want to be a researcher and work at the ILC” to “I want to run a pet shop, so I can introduce Japanese pets to foreign people.”

Other than seeing children raising their hands to participate in general, the two most rewarding experiences last year were as follows:

First, we created an expanded version of our presentation for a talk at Hada Elementary school for 106 3rd to 6th graders and 30 PTA members, and managed to hold everyone’s interest. I think it was the principal who told us afterward one parent had said “As soon as it gets too technical, I’m leaving,” and he or she had stayed the entire time.

From expanded Hada talk, comparing ILD weight to African elephants.

From expanded Hada talk, comparing ILD weight to African elephants.

Hada is close to Mizusawa-Esashi Station (the shinkansen station) so we talked about development. "Maybe there could be more grocery stores, buses, other facilities"

Hada is close to Mizusawa-Esashi Station (the shinkansen station) so we talked about development. “Maybe there could be more grocery stores, buses, other facilities”








Second, our ILC PowerPoint was used in another event called “Kids Workers” where 5th and 6th graders can try jobs they are interested in. 35 kids came to the ILC/scientist table (manned by Oshu city employees including Kazuki Sugawara). I unfortunately couldn’t attend, but I got to read the children’s’ sheets and see they were making the connections we had really wanted them to make:

The ILC table at Kids Workers

The ILC table at Kids Workers

“It was fun to do the experiments, and I learned that a big project called the ‘ILC’ is making progress, and I am looking forward to it in about 12? years.”

“I learned that when I am 25 years old the ILC will be completed, so I want to work at the ILC.”

“I learned that the ILC will need many kinds of people besides researchers and people to construct it. I learned that they will need people who are good at computers and English, so I want to study many subjects.”

This year, 13 elementary schools have signed up for ILC talks, which is almost twice what we got last year. We will keep working to refine our talks, have fun, and keep focused on what’s important. (If you’re interested in seeing our full PowerPoint, feel free to drop us a line at ilc(at)city.oshu.iwate.jp!)


小学生向けのILC出前授業の取組 [13号]トマス・アンナ(奥州市)













今年は、去年の倍近い13の小学校がILCの出前授業を希望しました。今後も、話の内容を改善し、楽しみながら、常に一番大事な目標を考えながら取り組んでいきたいと思います。 (小学生向けパワーポイント資料をご覧になりたい方は、ilc(at)city.oshu.iwate.jpまでお気軽に連絡してください。)