High Tech with a Human Touch
Introducing High School Teachers and Students to High Energy Particle Physics
The Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Science received a grant from the National Science foundation called “Quarknet”. The Quarknet program introduces high school teachers and students to high energy particle physics. Florida Institute of Technology has supported the program for the past 11 years. Laszlo Baksay, PhD. is the program supervisor who heads the DEIS program at Florida Tech. Joseph Laub is a master teacher in the Florida Tech UTEACH program and the lead teacher for the Quarknet program. Each Summer, Brevard and Indian River County high school teachers are invited to spend a week on the Florida Tech campus. At the workshop, teachers are given hands-on experience using scintillator paddle detectors to monitor cosmic rays, in particular muons. Data is collected and uploaded to the “Quarknet” national site, where it is analyzed by scientists from around the world. In addition to the detector work, teachers are exposed to the research going on at Florida Tech. Marcus Hohlman, PhD. “Gem detectors” which also analyze high energy particles but with a national security interest and Joseph Dwyer, PhD. lightning research, have been well received by the teachers in the past. Some teachers have been invited to visit and participate in on-going research at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Fermilab at the University of Chicago. Teachers are encouraged to continue the research started at the workshop and expose their high school students to the information.
In addition to the teacher workshop, select high school students participate in a 6-week program centered around the muon detectors. Students design and conduct research experiments analyzing the flux, decay and lifetime of subatomic particles as they enter and interact with Earth’s atmosphere. Most research has focused on how atmospheric and induced forces affect the cosmic rays and the detecting of “cosmic ray shower” events. The research is uploaded to the “Quarknet” site where it is reviewed and often published. Students can participate up to four years in the program.