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MINT on the move: Science experiments on a train

The Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel, in collaboration with Schweizerische Südostbahn AG (SOB), is launching a pilot project in which children and adults can conduct experiments while riding a train. Passengers boarding the Treno Gottardo will discover just how exciting natural sciences can be. 

In the nano-world – the world of individual atoms and molecules – the lines become blurred between the traditional disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology. Demand is high for research teams who have a broad understanding of the natural sciences. Day after day, they investigate structures and phenomena on the nanometer scale, laying the foundations for innovative new developments in our everyday lives. These may include innovative drug delivery systems or new materials with special electrical and magnetic properties that may one day be used in our computers or smartphones.

The SNI team at the University of Basel is committed to making scientific findings and research results accessible to a broad public audience. The team also wants to pass on their fascination for the natural sciences to children and young people, encouraging them to get active, ask questions, watch closely and do their own experiments. And where better than on a train?

Dr. Kerstin Beyer-Hans of the SNI, herself a mother of two young children, came up with the idea during a long train ride with her family. "We all know what it's like. The children want to be kept busy and at some point, despite being prepared, you run out of ideas," she explains. "The SNI team wants to support parents by offering children's experiments and crafts on the train. Not only are they fun, they also relate to the natural sciences."

The SNI team will partner with Südostbahn for this pilot project. Across two days in April 2023 (Saturday 15 April and Tuesday 18 April), SNI staff will offer experiments and crafts on the topic of optics in the family compartment of the "Treno Gottardo" on one journey from Olten/Basel to Locarno and two journeys from Locarno to Zurich. Children and young people aged 4 to 18 are welcome, as well as adults with an interest in nanoscience.

Südostbahn is supporting the project to awaken interest in research and technology at an early age. The company attaches great importance to training its own specialists in various professional fields and promoting innovation. "We can only counter the shortage of skilled workers in the long term by breaking new ground," says Marianne Reisner-Schmid, member of the Executive Board and Head of Human Resources & Organization at Südostbahn. "A train ride like this will awaken a love of discovery and has a good chance of creating lasting memories." 

More information: 
The SNI team will be on the following trains on 15-18 April 2023: 
Saturday, 15 April 2023: Olten (departure 08:30) via Lucerne, Arth-Goldau, Göschenen to Bellinzona, Locarno (arrival 12:25).
Tuesday, 18 April 2023: Basel (departure 08:03) via Lucerne, Arth-Goldau, Göschenen to Bellinzona, Locarno (arrival 12:25).
Saturday, 15 April 2023 and Tuesday, 18 April 2023: Locarno (departure 12:35) via Bellinzona, Göschenen, Arth-Goldau, to Zurich (arrival 15:55).
Special offers are available for travel on the Treno Gottardo from 27 March 2023: https://unterwegs.sob.ch/de/stories/ciaoticino