A young man’s curiosity for physics has taken him around the world but now he’s back in his native San Miguel Totolapan, Guerrero, promoting science among children and teenagers.
Cristóbal Miguel García Jaimes won fame in 2014 by building a miniature particle accelerator, earning an entry in the National Science Fair of the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) and a National Youth Award.
García has been known ever since as Chico Partículas, or The Particle Kid. His talent was acknowledged in 2015 by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which invited him to its Large Hadron Collider — the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider — in Geneva, Switzerland.
Now 21, García has been named one of the 200 Leaders of Tomorrow by the St. Gallen Symposium, an event organized every year by the International Students’ Committee (ISC), a team of students from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
The symposium aims to promote a debate among the decision makers of today and those of tomorrow, and is held annually in May.
Back in Mexico, the UNAM physics student knows there’s much to be done, particularly in his native Guerrero.
“The state has been hard hit, we experience violence every day and it has become a priority issue. I come from [the region of] Tierra Caliente, a trouble spot, where there’s the opportunity to do more,” García told the newspaper Milenio.
Dozens of schools in his native San Miguel Totolapan closed in fear or protest in December due to the violence created by the criminal gang Los Tequileros.
For García the key is education. With that in mind he and schoolmates and relatives have launched the Fundación Ciencia Sin Fronteras, or Science Without Borders, which seeks to obtain internationally-funded scholarships for local youths. Funds are already coming from Germany.
Supporters of the foundation in that country “send 50 euros (US $54) a month for these kids, who then develop their projects.”
“Guerrero has not participated in the National Computer Science Olympics for seven years, but we are preparing to send a team this year,” said the young leader.
So far the foundation supports 35 indigenous children and teenagers directly, but some 150 more are supported indirectly.
Many young people of Totolapan are getting their first interaction with a computer through García’s efforts: the foundation accepts discarded machines, fixes them and sets them up with free software. The computers are then used to teach coding and programming.
Restless and inquisitive, The Particle Kid has already set out to develop another of his projects. He wants to bring together ecologists and hoteliers belonging to the Association of Hotels and Tourist Businesses of Acapulco and create a system that produces diesel fuel from the hotels’ waste.
“. . . we would all win with this; we’re not harming the environment and in the end we can produce our own fuels organically.”