More than 70,000 people visited CERN Open Days over the weekend, with 20,000 going underground to see the LHC tunnel and the detectors. Of these, an estimated 5,000 people visited the ATLAS exhibits aboveground, and another 2,500 had the opportunity to see the ATLAS detector.
Visitors swarmed at LHC Point 1, trying out activities and interacting with volunteers and physicists. Even when it rained on Sunday, there were hundreds passing through the CERN site and coming over to see the ATLAS exhibits.
"Talking to different people working at CERN and being able to ask questions was one of the best experiences. The ATLAS site was amazing underground and aboveground, and the Lego stand was very cool," said Vee Ladwa, who flew over from London for the CERN Tweetup and the Open Days.
The ATLAS Cinema was a big hit with the public as were the Cloud Chamber room and the Detector Puzzle contest. The Higgs Stand featured ATLAS physicists sharing the excitement of scientific discovery with an interested and inquiring public.
At the Photo Stand, more than 1,200 families asked to have their photos, featuring an ATLAS detector background, uploaded to the ATLAS Facebook page. The European Outreach projects 'Discover the Cosmos' and 'Go-Lab' had six large screen PCs and four iPads set up with some of the projects' labs running demonstrations for the public. The labs included the LHC game, CERNland, HYPATIA, MINERVA, and Collisions from ATLAS event display and analysis.
Across the way, the LEGO tent was filled with children and adults, building their own detectors. By the end of the event, over 300 LEGO models were entered in the Build Your Own Particle Detector competition.
ATLAS' team of almost 200 volunteers helped with guiding, explaining, and demonstrating what we do here at CERN to the public.