Particle Physicist for a Day
This isn’t your average field trip. This month, more than 6,000 high school students participating in Hands-on Particle Physics Masterclasses will have the chance to form national or international scientific collaborations, just like real particle physicists do.
With the help of particle physicists, students from across Europe, the United States, South Africa, and Brazil will turn into physicists themselves and analyze data from large particle collider experiments at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research. Most students will participate in this activity by traveling to universities and research institutes near their schools.
Classroom groups will discuss their findings via videoconference with other groups of students from across the country or even across the globe. Physicists at CERN and at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will moderate the videoconferences.
"This is a great opportunity for students to interact with scientists and gain a better understanding of how modern research in physics works,” said Prof. Michael Kobel, Technical University of Dresden, who initiated this program within the European Particle Physics Outreach Group five years ago. “I hope identifying subatomic particles in real data from the large experiments at CERN will inspire them."
In the last couple of years the program expanded from Europe into the United States, South Africa, and Brazil. This year, scientists at more than 102 universities and laboratories in 23 countries will host students. In the United States, students will participate in the Masterclasses as part of the QuarkNet program.
This year’s lecturers will discuss the basics of particle physics and highlight the scientific questions that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is about to answer, such as finding the origin of mass and searching for dark matter particles. Students will analyze visual displays of real data collected at the Large Electron-Positron collider, the predecessor of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. For the first time students also will work with simulated data based on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC.
The opportunity to experience state-of-the-art research in an authentic environment will give students insight into the international organization of modern research. At the same time, they will learn about the building blocks of our universe through presentations by scientists involved in particle physics research.
“The Masterclass gives students the opportunity to understand the way physicists do high-energy physics,” said Jeff Rylander, instructional supervisor for the science department at Glenbrook South High School in Glenbrook, Ill. Rylander brought eight of his students to Argonne National Laboratory for a Masterclass last year and worked with a particle physicist from Fermilab. “They appreciated looking at real data and interacting with a real physicist,” he said.
The Hands-on Particle Physics student research days take place under the central coordination of Professor Kobel in close cooperation with the European Particle Physics Outreach Group and with the support of the Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale,” and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF. QuarkNet is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S Department of Energy.
Dr. Uta Bilow, Technical University of Dresden, +49-351-463-32956, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Cecire, Hampton University, QuarkNet Center, 757-728-6533, 630-840-4165, email@example.com
The European Particle Physics Outreach Group is an independent committee of representatives of CERN member states and the research laboratories CERN and DESY. The committee’s goal is to make particle physics more accessible to the public. For more information: http://eppog.web.cern.ch
For more information on the Hands-on Particle Physics Masterclasses:
For more information on QuarkNet and the Fermilab Education Office: