U Penn Abstract - D. Rostovtsev

For me, QuarkNet was a series of firsts.  First time learning about cosmic rays, first time using an FPGA, first time using a Raspberry Pi, first time soldering with a microscope, first time seeing scintillators and drift tubes and first time sitting in on lectures in a lecture hall.  Also, being a sophomore, it was my first paycheck, first nine to five and first debit card.

One of the coolest things we did was visit Brookhaven National Labs.  There I saw a real particle detector for the first time.  It was incredible how large it was, and it was also incredible how much of the specifics about the scintillators and drift tubes and silicon detectors made sense after learning about them and using them in QuarkNet.  The whole experience made me feel like I new a little more than I thought I did before.  It closed the gap for me between reading in a book that there are these things I have never seen before called muons and quarks and actually seeing in real life how these things are discovered.

In the lab, I was really happy to find that we gained a ton of specific knowledge and skills with building the detector.  The experience was very hands on. I learned how to program in Verilog and I got to build two adapters for the Raspberry Pi in Godwin’s lab.  I also got to program a ton in python and learned how to use oscilloscopes, pulsars and NEM crates.  So even though we may or may not finish the project, I think that for me, QuarkNet was a great success.

U Penn Abstract - A. Liu

Throughout the six weeks of the QuarkNet program, I worked mostly on the hardware side of the project. The goal was to build a detector that detects and measures cosmic rays. Upon first using the advanced lab equipment, I was introduced to things like scintillators and photomultiplier tubes that I had not known about beforehand. First, we checked for light leaks and found the optimum voltage for each scintillator with a Cesium-137 source. When that was done, we tested the 32 photomultiplier tubes in two chambers to determine which ones were not producing signals. This process took many weeks because some tubes needed to be soldered or replaced. Soldering fixed the tubes that had broken connections to capacitors, and tubes with broken pins or no continuity were replaced. Repeated testing of the tubes was done to determine the ones that produced a signal on the oscilloscope. Some of the tubes gave no signals even when they were fixed or replaced with a working tube. Troubleshooting, such as checking for proper grounding, gas leaks and current draw, was accomplished to ultimately have two fully working chambers. Many of the tubes had to been run at a much higher voltage than originally thought. From the entire hardware process, I got a closer look at electronics and the wiring of the cosmic ray detector. In addition to possessing a deeper understanding of the detectors, I was exposed to the scientific research process. I learned that results don’t just come in ones. Sometimes, we had to go over and redo tests many times, but the end result was always worthwhile. Most importantly, I learned to move on from minor problems when larger unseen issues were looming. I also developed a focused attention for assembling the sensitive instruments and for soldering tiny connections. The patience required for careful handling and fixing of the tubes was an important part of the learning process.

In addition to working on our own project, I was exposed to other areas of physics and astronomy. We attended daily lectures by professors and specialists. The lectures were diverse, from biophysics to gravitational lensing. Furthermore, we attended tours of other labs, including the BLAST lab, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the robotics lab, and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. It was also very useful to be able to discuss problems and receive help from the University of Pennsylvania staff and faculty throughout the program.

Before I started QuarkNet, I did not know how much I would come to love the kind of work that the people in the High Energy Physics Department do. Throughout the six weeks, I was able to utilize my scientific knowledge and programming skills to work with three other students on a higher level physics project. Having once regarded research as an esoteric process, I was thrilled to discover that research is a means to satisfy one’s curiosity of the surrounding world and to share it with others. The skills and knowledge I have gained at QuarkNet will surely help me in my future endeavors. 

2015 Annual Report

Thanks for another great year of QuarkNet!

This year the summer workshop was hosted by OU.  A special thanks goes out to Mike Strauss for organizing the event and to all of the presenters.  Or course, it wouldn't be possible without the excellent teachers who attended.  I believe there were over 20 this year!  :-)

I look foreward to 2016!


2015 Annual Report - Purdue Summer Workshop

Four teachers attended Purdue's 2015 summer workshop which was held June 23-26.  Our lead teacher (Marla Glover) was joined by two new teachers and one returning for a second year.  As we have typically done when working with new teachers, the workshop focused on introducing particle physics concepts and the study of cosmic rays using the QuarkNet cosmic ray detector.  This year we explored some ideas associated with probability and statistics and how these concepts might be taught using measurements made with the cosmic ray detector to provide concrete examples.  In additon, teachers explored the activities on which the MasterClass workshop for high school students are based.  This year we did not visit Fermilab, but did tour the nuclear reactor on the Purdue campus and the tandem Van de Graaff accelerator facility at Purdue's PRIME lab.


In March, Purdue hosted a MasterClass workshop in which 4 students from 2 schools participated.  In addition to the analysis of data from the CMS experiment, the students were given tours of the silicon detector assembly labs at Purdue, at which components for the upgraded CMS Forward Pixel Detector are being assembled.  Later in the spring, lead teacher Marla Glover hosted an additional MasterClass activity at her school in which 12 students from her school shared their findings with students from France.

2015 Annual Report - University of Minnesota

QuarkNet activity at the University of Minnesota's QuarkNet Center in 2015 included participation in the International Masterclass, and a summer workshop for teachers centered around both LHC/CMS data and cosmic ray muon detector data analyses.  

A total of 18 students and 3 local teachers participated in the Masterclass on March 28th, 2015. The students analyzed data from the CMS detector (WZH), heard talks from Minnesota HEP researcher Dr. Satish Desai and HEP graduate students, and toured the Univesity's Nano Fabrication Center. After analyzing the CMS data, students discussed results locally with Dr. Desai and Dr. Cronin-Hennessy. Throughout the day, several HEP graduate students helped out as well, sharing demos (cloud chambers, etc.) answering student questions, and sharing "life as a grad student" experiences at lunch with the high school students.  

The 3-day summer workshop for teachers was divided into two parts. First was a 1-day workshop in June at the University of Minnesota during which teachers heard two talks (one on consmology (Marco Peloso) and one on dark matter (Mark Pepin)), worked through an activity from the Data Portfolio, and perfromed a data analysis on CMS data (J/Psi).  In August, teachers met again - this time for 2 days at nearby Irondale High School - in order to work through plateuing cosmic ray muon detectors, then uploading and analyzing data from the detectors. Teachers will meet for an additoinal day in December into order to follow up on cosmic ray detector questions and to share ideas regarding implementation.    

As of 2015, there are 12 active Minnesota QuarkNet teachers; eight of whom have cosmic ray muon detectors.  Professor Dan Cronin-Hennessy continues to serve as the group's mentor, planning the workshop days with the assistance of lead teacher Jon Anderson and QN staff Shane Wood.  Minnesota HEP administrator Andrea Stronghart organizes logistics for the group, including rooms, lunches and paperwork.

Images below: (1) Masterclass students on tour (2) QuarkNet teachers discussing the use of cosmic ray muon detectors (3) One teacher group's CRMD set-up varying the angle of the counters.

Notre Dame QuarkNet Annual Report 2015

The University of Notre Dame QuarkNet Center had four main areas of activity in 2015: student and teacher research (the largest), outreach, masterclasses, and an ongoing community of teachers and physicists. 
Student and teacher research – and all of the Notre Dame QuarkNet activities – are dominated by the summer program, which this year had 16 teachers and 15 students. There were seven areas of research. In the Digital Visualization Theater (DVT) project, students and teachers worked to improve and extend the digital particle physics and LHC show for the Notre Dame DVT. This show has become an important component in explaining particle physics to the Notre Dame community and beyond. The CMS Data group does sophisticated analysis of open data from CMS; for the past several years, they have been working on the analysis of top quark data in ROOT. The CMS Upgrade group works on prototyping components for the next phase of the CMS detector. The Notre Dame QuarkNet Astrophysics group studied AG Pegasi, a symbiotic variable star. AG Pegasi was undergoing an eruption in brightness, the first observed since 1885. The Biocomplexity group works on computer modeling of biological systems and creation of related learning materials. The Cosmic Ray group this year tested and commissioned QuarkNet cosmic ray detectors and then performed cosmic ray studies, including an altitude study using a detector on board a small airplane. Additional cosmic ray studies are done using Project GRAND, a cosmic ray research array located in the northern part of the Notre Dame campus. Abstracts for these projects can be found at /group/notre-dame-quarknet-center. Student research continues in the academic year with two students coming in periodically to work on the CMS Upgrade. In a new effort this year Notre Dame partnered with Indiana University (South Bend campus) for work on the PICO experiment. Two teachers and one student worked on acoustic sensors for the bubble chamber at the heart of PICO's dark matter search.
Outreach is a major component of the Notre Dame QuarkNet center. Teachers and physicists present demonstrations and activities each year in Science Spooktacular, a Halloween public science  exhibition in nearby Elkhart, and Science Alive, a similar but larger exhibition at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend in the winter. Notre Dame QuarkNet participation was again strong on 2015. Notre Dame QuarkNet also had an Andronico Luksic grant from the University to do outreach through particle physics masterclasses in February 2015 (see http://science.nd.edu/news/55530-notre-dame-quarknet-center-expands-masterclasses-in-chile/ ) with a teacher and a faculty member traveling to Chile to facilitate workshops in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catolica. Notre Dame QuarkNet gave a one-day workshop in particle physics to international high school students at Notre Dame in July 2015 as part of the International Leadership, Enrichment and Development (iLED) program and was in overall charge of the academic side of the two-week International Summer Physics Institute (iSPI) particle physics workshop for highly motivated international high school students in July and August 2015.
Notre Dame is a key participant in International Masterclasses (IMC). The effort to create the CMS masterclass was led from Notre Dame. IMC is co-coordinated from Technische Universität Dresden and Notre Dame through meetings, electronic collaboration, and reciprocal visits. Notre Dame held three masterclasses for students and teachers in 2015 – the most of any IMC Institute in North or South America and well above average worldwide. In masterclasses, students a “particle physicists for a day”, learning about particle physics, analyzing actual data from the LHC, and sharing results with other Institutes via vidoeoconferences with modrators at Fermilab or CERN. Notre Dame has also developed an astrophysics masterclass based on light curves for stars with exoplanets and brings this to classrooms each year. This year, people from Notre Dame went to John Adams High School in South Bend for a week to lead students through the exoplanet masterclass.
All of the efforts above are undergirded by a strong learning and acting community. In addition to the intensive summer work, teachers meet with mentors nearly every Monday during the academic year to learn about progress in particle physics, share experiences, and steer activities. The meetings have a videoconference component for teachers who are distant and are generally informal and easy-going. Much gets done.
Teachers, students, and physicists from the Notre Dame summer program 2015.
Students discuss CMS data analysis with Notre Dame graduate student Allison Reinsvold in iSPI.


Virginia Tech QuarkNet Center 2015 Activity Report

The Virginia Tech QuarkNet Center currently has 1 active high school teacher, and is actively recruiting additional participants. Our lead teacher is Rebecca Jaronski.

Rebecca participated in research at Virginia Tech during June and July, and attended Data Camp at FNAL, July 20-24. For her research at VT, Rebecca worked with Professor Camillo Mariani to build a small cosmic ray detector. She used the detector to take background cosmic readings, and then used it to calibrate an ongoing research experiment in VT’s High Energy Physics Lab. While at Data Camp, Rebecca used data from CERN to calculate the mass of the Z0 Boson.

This fall Rebecca is looking forward to attending a cosmic ray detector workshop in St. Louis in order to run a QuarkNet detector with her students.

Equipment setup in the High Energy Physics Lab                           Rebecca at FNAL

FSU QuarkNet: Year Summary 2015

FSU’s QuarkNet center, now in its 16th year, presently has about 20 regular members, mainly from Leon County, but also a few from neighboring counties. During this last year we had a few meetings of “TeachMeet Tally,” a group loosely affiliated with QuarkNet, organized by Adam LaMee. These meetings are informal, monthly social events held for educators to share proven teaching practices.

Two of our regulars, Zondra Clayton and Karen Brown, were selected to attend a Data Camp at Fermilab.

Our main event of the year was our QuarkNet summer workshop at FSU, 6 to 10 July 2015. It was attended by 15 school teachers (http://www.hep.fsu.edu/~wahl/Quarknet/summer2015/people.html ), plus one master teacher from FSU-Teach (Logan Chalfant).

The program (http://www.hep.fsu.edu/~wahl/Quarknet/summer2015/agenda.html ) included a three-day workshop on cosmic rays led by Robert Franckowiak from QuarkNet. In addition to the cosmic-ray workshop activities, we had various lectures by FSU Physics Department faculty:  Introduction to Cosmic Rays (Horst Wahl), Introduction to Quantum Theory (Horst Wahl), Highlights of Particle Physics (Laura Reina), Introduction to Astrophysics (Jeremiah Murphy) and Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics (Christianne Beekman), as well as a number of potential class room activities which were led by teachers who are members of the local QN center (Brian McClain, JaSun Burdick, Adam LaMee).

Unfortunately, Adam LaMee has taken a new job as Instructional Specialist at the University of Central Florida and will therefore no longer be available for us. His departure leaves a big hole and we’ll have to identify somebody to fill this void.

Final Report for Rutgers QuarkNet Session 2015

2015 JHU Annual Report

QuarkNet Annual Report 2015

JHU Center

The JHU QuarkNet center had another successful year, involving both high school teachers and students in its activities.  The one-week teacher workshop took place from 20-24 July, and the six-week student internship ran from 30 June to 9 August.  We had several teachers from the JHU center use their cosmic ray muon detectors throughout the year, and our center also participated in the 2015 CMS Masterclass.


  1. Teacher Workshop

During the first morning, teachers and students listened to a variety of talks from professors from the Physics & Astronomy department of JHU, as well as a talk from co-lead teacher Kevin Martz. A list of talks, with links, follows:

Dr. Morris Swartz - History of Particle Physics Discoveries

Mr. Kevin Martz - Neutron Diffraction Physics

Dr. Andrei Gristan - Matter in Space & Time 

For the rest of the week, teachers participated in two QuarkNet-hosted workshops: the CMS Data Workshop and the CMS e-lab. Both of these workshops entailed using real data from the LHC CMS experiment to infer properties about particles produced in the proton-proton collisions. See here for a link to the agenda for the week's activities.

In both of the workshops, teachers took advantage of the resources available in the QuarkNet Data Portfolio, an ever-growing set of student-centered activities and curricular resources that are intended to help teachers incorporate particle physics concepts into their classrooms.




  1. Student Research

9 students (4 from Damascus HS; 5 from Hereford HS) participated in a 6-week summer research internship beginning on 29 June and running to 7 August.  After a short series of introductory activities, students were set loose to pursue research topics of their own choosing.  Alongside this theoretical research, students also designed and conducted experiments with the QuarkNet muon detectors: one group attempted to determine a correlation between muon flux and time of day; another group attempted to determine the mean lifetime of the muon once brought to rest inside the scintillating material.


See our Drupal page for a list of topics, the research abstracts, and PDFs of the summary posters: