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One-Day Physics Investigations: Activities based on techniques particle physicists use to make discoveries


The Standard Model organizes what we know about subatomic particles.

Magnetic and electric fields accelerate, bend and focus beams of charged particles.

  • Making it 'Round the Bend: 3 activities in which students explore
    1. properties of dipole and quadrupole magnets,
    2. forces felt by charged particles moving through magnetic fields,
    3. the effects of electric and magnetic fields on particles.

Well-understood particle masses provide data to calibrate detectors.

  • Plotting LHC Discovery: Students explore features of mass plots of a well-understood particle and apply what they have learned to plots from new discoveries.

Event displays visualize data. Application of conservation of momentum and energy reveals new phenomena.

  • Calculate the Top Quark Mass: Students use conservation laws and vector addition to calculate the top mass from event displays.
  • Calculate the Z Mass: Students use conservation laws and vector addition to calculate the Z mass from event displays.

Histograms represent data for analysis and interpretation.

Indirect evidence provides data to study particles too small and fleeting to see.

  • Rolling with Rutherford: Students use statistics to make an indirect measurement they can easily confirm.
  • Cosmic Rays and the Sun: Students investigate the idea that cosmic rays originate in the sun and study evidence to confirm or refute their original understanding.

Master teachers developed these activities in conjunction with particle physicists. Some were funded through QuarkNet.