CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, a leading laboratory for particle physics, held a first stone ceremony as the next step in the creation of the Science Gateway, a new hub for scientific education and culture, which was first unveiled in 2019 in Geneva with the support of the FCA Foundation (the charitable arm of Stellantis).
Fabiola Gianotti, CERN’s director-general; John Elkann, chairman of Stellantis and the FCA Foundation, the main donor; Renzo Piano, architect and founder of Renzo Piano Building Workshop; and Antonio Hodgers, representing the Geneva Canton, were present to mark the successful start of its construction. Ursula Bassler, president of the CERN Council, contributed to the ceremony remotely. Representatives from CERN Member and Associate Member States, Host States and many other partners were also in attendance at the ceremony.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the many partners in our Member and Associate Member States and beyond who are making the CERN Science Gateway possible, in particular to our generous donors. The challenging times we’ve been through over the past 18 months have demonstrated the enduring value and the necessity of science and the need for cooperation across borders. Science brings people together and shows what humanity can achieve when we put our differences aside and focus on the common good. Science gives hope and trust in a better future. We want the CERN Science Gateway to inspire all those who come to visit with the beauty and the values of science,” said CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti during her opening speech.
With a footprint of 7,000 square meters, the iconic Science Gateway building will offer a variety of spaces and activities, from exhibitions explaining the secrets of nature, to the very small (elementary particles), as well as to the very large (the structure and evolution of the universe). The exhibitions will also feature CERN’s accelerators, experiments and computing, how scientists use them in their exploration and how CERN technologies benefit society. Hands-on experimentation will be a key ingredient in the Science Gateway’s educational program, allowing visitors to experience first hand what it is like to be a scientist. The immersive activities available in the Science Gateway will foster critical thinking, evidence-based assessment and use of the scientific method, important tools in all walks of life.
The project will be funded through external donations, with the leading contribution coming from Stellantis through its FCA Foundation.
“At Stellantis, we strongly believe in the importance of education, with an emphasis in the fields of science and technology,” said John Elkann, chairman of Stellantis and the FCA Foundation. “Supporting STEM education has proven to be the most effective way to keep our societies open and safe, as we have learned this last year by overcoming the COVID-19 crisis.
“Among the many education initiatives we are promoting in our communities, we’re honored to be supporting the ambitious and innovative Science Gateway project that is expected to raise awareness, curiosity and love for science in every dimension in the greatest number of people possible, from our children to our elderly. We are very proud of our association with CERN with whom we share similar values and optimism about the future,” Elkann added. “This commitment in such a stimulating setting is also a way for us to honor the memory of Sergio Marchionne, with his multifaceted intellectual curiosity and his passion for physics, with its rigorous and evidence-based methods and yet always open and creative.”
As part of the educational portfolio of the Science Gateway, CERN and Stellantis through the FCA Foundation will develop, with the advice of the Fondazione Agnelli, an education project in inquiry-based physics dedicated to Italian middle schools.
Scheduled to open in 2023, the Science Gateway will be hosted in a new, iconic and carbon neutral building, designed by world-renowned architects Renzo Piano Building Workshop, on CERN’s Meyrin site adjacent to other iconic buildings, the Globe of Science and Innovation.