QuarkNet Teacher Institute – Summer 2012

Purdue University Physics Outreach recruited nine teachers for the 2012 QuarkNet professional development institute, over half of which had never before participated in QuarkNet! Participating teachers learned about the origins of cosmic rays and their ubiquitous presence throughout the cosmos. Teacher also learned ways of observing the effects cosmic rays and conducted hands-on experiments using cosmic ray detectors.

Observing traces of muons in cloud chamber
Physics teachers John Barry (Seeger Junior Senior High School) and Chris Horner (Westfield High School) observe traces of muons and other forms of ionizing radiation in a cloud chamber.

Teachers tour Prime Lab's Particle Accelerator
As a component of the QuarkNet teacher professional development program, teachers toured Fermilab. Pictured here, teachers pose with the tandem Van de Graff accelerator in the PRIME Lab at Purdue. PRIME Lab researchers routinely use the ratio of isotopes in sedimentary rocks produced over time by cosmic rays to calculate the age of the rock.

A significant element of the week’s activities was the showcasing of a software interface developed by Lafayette Jefferson High School student Frank Roetker and Professor Matthew Jones as an outreach component of an NSF award. The software provides a simple interface with which to visualize and analyze cosmic ray data in real time. Popular experiments teachers will take back to their classrooms include measuring cosmic ray flux over long time periods, as well as measuring the mean lifetime and the speed of muons coming through our atmosphere.

Through the Purdue QuarkNet Program, teachers will be provided the use of cosmic ray detectors for teaching about particle physics and cosmic rays in their own classroom. Materials prepared for the summer workshop, including including PowerPoint presentations and the software interface for the cosmic ray detector, are availailable at the Purdue QuarkNet Center link in the menu on the right.

Last Updated: May 5, 2016 5:17 PM