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Surfatron brings the physics of plasma accelerators to the classroom

The online game Surfatron, designed by Ricardo Torres has proven a useful tool to convey the challenges of plasma wakefield acceleration to a broad range of audiences. The Surfatron has now been introduced to the international science teacher community with an article published in the journal Science in School.



Science in School is the European journal for science teachers and it regularly features educational resources to bring into the classroom concepts and ideas of contemporary research in all areas of science.


The article Surfatron – Catch the wave of accelerators introduces the science of wakefield acceleration to a non-specialised audience and describes the Surfatron game with instructions on how to play it. The paper proposes three lessons, designed for 14 – 19 year old students, which use the Surfatron to teach the properties of waves, the basics of kinematics and interpreting graphs, and the mechanics of surfing as an analogue to particle accelerators.

As an optional extension activity, the article includes a document with instructions on how to build and operate the mechanical Surfatron. Finally, an info sheet for teachers explains more in detail the science of plasma accelerators in connection to the Surfatron, and links it to the AWAKE experiment and the EuPRAXIA project.


The article can be found on:

R. Torres, “Surfatron: Catch the wave of accelerators”, Science in School, Issue 62, April 2023. https://www.scienceinschool.org/article/2023/surfatron-catch-the-wave-of-accelerators/

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