Teacher's Guide–Introduction

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Beauty and Charm are the fanciful names of two of six fundamental particles called quarks. Part of the experimental verification for the existence of quarks occurred at Fermilab. The title, Beauty and Charm at Fermilab, however, was chosen with a second meaning also in mind.

Fermilab, as any visitor will attest, is a place of beauty—a highrise main building with architecture inspired by a French cathedral and set on a prairie-like plain reminiscent of early Illinois. And Fermilab scientists, although a competitive breed in a rigorous and esoteric field, will charm you with their animated descriptions of particles, the universe, and with their cultural interests and human concerns.

This unit and the associated kit is a result of the cultural interests and human concerns of Fermilab Friends for Science Education (FFSE), an association devoted to the promotion of Fermilab as an education resource. With U.S. Department of Energy and FFSE funding and a good amount of volunteer effort, Beauty and Charm at Fermilab was created to provide junior high and middle school students with a view and an active experience of the excitement of science in a major national research facility.

The unit's investigations were chosen to present problems similar to what particle physicists face: How do you measure small things? How do you study something you can't see? What do you imagine the world inside the nucleus of an atom to be like? What can we see that tells us the tiny world of subatomic particles really exists? What is an accelerator or detector? How do these machines help scientists as they explore the world of particle physics?

The investigations are attempts to give students some feeling for how physicists try to answer these questions. And like physicists, students learn that the search for answers is never finished—and that is precisely why science is so challenging and fascinating.

The unit and kit contain several components to aid the teacher in conducting this quest: a Teacher's Guide with investigation guidance and background information; student sheets with directions and questions; materials for classroom activities; and a videotape to explain and tour Fermilab.

If you feel intimidated at the prospect of teaching about particle physics, be assured that the investigations were created and piloted by junior high, middle school and high school teachers. Physicists have carefully reviewed the materials for accuracy in their relationship to scientific ideas and processes. The purpose of these materials, however, is not to instill directly the language and concepts of particle physics—some of this may happen—but to provide an experience of science to broaden and enrich attitudes and develop an appreciation for physics, the people, and the work conducted at U.S. Department of Energy laboratories.

You can download the complete Beauty & Charm manual (1.2 MB PDF).