TEENAGERS used a computer game to create a virtual venue dedicated to a famous science experiment.

Students from three Oxfordshire secondary schools built a computerised museum about the ATLAS detector: a machine through which scientists discovered the elusive Higgs boson particle.

Youngsters from Abingdon School, Didcot Girls’ School and Abingdon’s Fitzharrys School made the interactive museum using the game Minecraft.

Jeremy Thomas, a science teacher at the former school, said: “It has been a truly rewarding experience and the buzz amongst all the pupils has been inspirational.”

The teacher heads the school’s science outreach programme Abingdon Science Partnership, which led the collaboration.

Students learnt the ATLAS experiment is part of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, and in 2012 identified the Higgs boson, which is crucial to particle physics theory.

Fitzharrys student Billy Burnham, who is in Year 11, said: “At the beginning I had no knowledge of how it worked – I just passed it off as ‘too hard for me’.

“I am extremely glad to have learnt how it works.”

Minecraft allows users to construct and explore worlds using 3D building blocks, meaning students were able to piece together a room with information and diagrams about the experiment.

About 20 students took part from the three Oxfordshire schools, aged between 13 and 15-years-old, joined by peers from Portsmouth Grammar School.

Their success was aided by scientists from Oxford University, Birmingham University and CERN - the scientific research centre leading the ATLAS experiment in Switzerland.

Minecraft users can explore their creation, and scientists will use it to explain the complex experiment to schoolchildren.

Abingdon School sixth former Joe O’Shea mentored four of the school’s younger pupils who participated in the project.

The 17-year-old said: “I was really impressed how the boys could use Minecraft to demonstrate really complex particle physics processes and models so elegantly.”

Players can explore the CERN campus, shrink particles and conduct their own virtual experiments.

Cigdem Issever, professor of particle physics at Oxford University, said: “It is amazing - I’m looking forward to using this as a way to make my research more accessible, starting with primary school students.”

For more details visit atlascraft.web.cern.ch