Color Mixing, Dark Matter, and X-rays


The QuarkNet efforts at UW–Madison are led by the Wisconsin IceCube Astrophysics Center (WIPAC). Prof. Justin Vandenbroucke (PI) and Dr Silvia Bravo (co-PI) work together with several researchers working with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and the Distributed Electronic Cosmic-ray Observatory (DECO).

The QuarkNet program @ WIPAC included two activities this year.

i) IceCube Masterclass at WIPAC, held on March 18 in Madison. WIPAC led the second edition of the IceCube Masterclasses held at ten different IceCube institutions in the US and Europe. In Madison, 30 students from six high schools in the Madison area attended the masterclass.

Budget considerations: there are no budget expenses associated with this activity.

ii) HS student internship to develop data analysis tools for DECO as weel as the DECO iOS app.  Prof. Justin Vandenbroucke leads the DECO project, an app that turns your cell phone into a cosmic-ray detector. After some months focusing on development, the app is now ready to be used in formal and non-formal learning environments. We recruited four high school students to work with us during the summer of 2015.  Three students developed algorithms to automatically classify DECO events and the fourth one developed the iOS version of the DECO app. All students keep collaborating with us during the academic year 2015-2016.

Budget considerations: students worked during 6 weeks with an hourly pay of $7.75 per hour .

We keep working with our QuarkNet teachers, although we did not host any teacher workshop this year.


2014-2015 Budget



QuarkNet Funding

2015 IceCube Masterclass

Second Edition

Not Funded

HS internship for DECO*

4 students , 6 weeks  




SUNY Buffalo QuarkNet Annual Report

2015 Annual Report - virtual QuarkNet

Virtual QuarkNet is a group of far flung, often isolated American high school science teachers from Boston and Atlanta, to the northwest coast of Washington, and Shanghai.  Mentors Antonio Delgado and Dan Karmgard are assisted by lead teachers Mike Wadness and Dave Trapp.  In the 2014-15 school year they held 10 monthly meetings via Sunday evening (Monday morning in Asia) video conference.  Attendance varied from 6 to 8 with most meetings attended by 7 participants.  Sessions typically lasted from an hour to 90 minutes.  Several sessions had guest speakers and nearly all of them included discussions of the latest physics discoveries or theories.

Many of the group members have and use cosmic ray detectors at their school and most of the group also had high school students participate in the Masterclass.

The group also typically gathers for a couple days each summer at a site which offers new insights into physics.  In early August 2015 the group gathered in Albuquerque and Los Alamos New Mexico with the crucial assistance of physicist Danielle McDermott.  In New Mexico the group had the opportunity to visit and tour the Very Large Array (VLA) which has been detecting the faintest radio signals from near the time of the Big Bang.  At Los Alamos, the group enjoyed a variety of talks that featured the history of Los Alamos, the use of bacteria to do work on a system, a connection between Faraday and the Higgs, and the Mars Curiosity Rover.  In addition the group took advantage of the clear, high desert sky to do some spectacular star gazing facilitated by our resident astronomer Jim Small.  The group ended its workshop with a visit to Bandelier National Monument to hike through the ancient pueblos.  Thank you to our mentors and especially to Danielle McDermott for arranging a valuable summer workshop.

University of Kansas QuarkNet Center Report

See attached pdf for the report.

Colorado State University Annual Report

2015 Boston QuarkNet Annual Report

Boston QuarkNet Center

2015 Annual Report




  As indicated in meeting Minutes included below, we had another active year at the Boston Center (in continuous operation since 1999).

Mentors:  Prof. George Alverson, Northeastern University
                  Prof. Ulruch Heintz, Brown University



  Another convivial meeting occurred tonight with a few new participants. Greg Schwanbeck from Westwood High School, Ratnakar Amaravadi from Natick High School, and Justin Goding, who is planning a career change from engineering to physics teaching, joined us for the first time. George Alverson from Northeastern, Tom Jordan, our QuarkNet staff member from UMass Amherst, and the usual suspects of Catherine Newman (nee Haberkorn), Mike Wadness, Mike Hirsh, George Odell, and Rick Dower filled out the crew. Congratulations to Catherine on her wedding this past summer!


  After our usual conversation about physics teaching over snacks, Mike Hirsh showed us a fascinating Veritasium video on YouTube about Kahn Academy and Science Teaching. The indication was that explaining a topic clearly without requiring the student to confront his or her misconceptions along the way may be counterproductive because students tend to hear what they expect to hear and get confirmed in their incorrect explanations. Greg followed that with some slides from a recent presentation he gave on the virtues of Peer Instruction (a technique developed by Eric Mazur at Harvard) to get students talking about their explanations of phenomena before an explanation is given. That way their misconceptions are brought into the open, and the teacher or other students can confront them with other evidence that challenges those misconceptions. We discussed that difference between a conceptual understanding of phenomena and an algorithmic understanding with which a student may be able to calculate a numerically correct answer to a problem but not be able to explain properly what is happening and why things work the way they do.


  George Odell demonstrated the iSense web site and data analysis platform and extolled its many easy-to-use features. Mike Hirsh demonstrated a small copper sheet swinging between two magnets and coming to an abrupt stop due to the eddy currents generated. Rick followed that with a neodymium magnet dropping at a slow steady velocity through a copper pipe and a longer aluminum pipe  in the same time. Mike Wadness explained the Particle Physics Masterclass student exercise (coming up on March 14, 2015 at Northeastern) to the new folks. We ended by setting the date and time for our next meeting as Wednesday, February 25 at Roxbury Latin. Among other things, we will be going through the Z-mass exercise that is part of the preparation for the Masterclass. We hope to see many of you then. For now, we wish you a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!



  Our winter meeting took place on Wednesday February 25, 2015 at Roxbury Latin School. In addition to regulars like Mike Wadness, George Odell, and me, we were joined by Charlotte Wood-Harrington, Justin Goding, and via video conference Tammy Kjonaas and two other teachers interested in preparing for a QuarkNet Masterclass. Mike Wadness led the Masterclass updadte session and wolked everyone through the use of the ispy CMS event display program and the CMS CIMA Masterclass protocall for examining Z and Higgs boson candidates in the CMS data. The session concluded with teachers working through the Mass Calc Z exercise. We were happy that the meeting was scheduled for a Wednesday and not a Monday when the apparently inevitable Monday snowstorm in Boston would have meant a postponement and rescheduling of the meeting. Hot cider and snacks kept our spirits up on the chilly evening.



  On Tuesday March 10, six of my students and I had the pleasure of a video conference with Elisa Gatz and her students in DeKalb, IL for an ATLAS Masterclass. Elisa and I have fond memories of working together at the CERN HST program during July 2010.



 Mike Wadness and Prof. George Alverson led the Boston CMS Masterclass at Northeastern University with about 20 students. A good time was had by all.




  As many of you know, Tom Jordan, our QuarkNet staff resresentative in the New England area died unexpectedly of a heart attack last week. He was only 52. Mike Wadness, Mike Hirsh, Gerry Gagnon, and I attended a Rememberance Service with Tom's family, friends, and Fermilab colleagues this past Tuesday (4/7/2015) in Northampton, MA. The depth of affection that he engendered in those with whom he lived and worked was evident from the memories recalled by those in attendance. Mike Wadness spoke of Tom's love of fun and adventure during a car trip to see Mt. St. Helens while at the Protland AAPT meeting. I noted Tom's use of questions and suggestions rather than answers to prompt people to try and answer their own questions. The service was a moving tribute to a colleague who will be missed.



  We had our spring meeting on a cool evening in June (6/3) and a welcome reunion with  our first mentors Ulrich Heintz (Brown University) and Darien Wood (Northeastern University). QuarkNet teachers in attendance were Tammy Kjonaas and Chris Perkins (Wheeler School), Catherine Newman and Mike Wadness (Medford High), George Odell (North Andover High), Gerry Gagnon( Newton South High), Justin Goding, Mike Hirsh (Needham High), and Rick Dower (Roxbury Latin School).


  After initial snacks and conversation about the Particle Fever movie and the pleasures of teaching at the end of the year, Mike Wadness showed us some cosmic ray data that his class had taken. They pulled out the leading edge times of three-fold coincidence hits in the detector paddles, which had been placed in a vertical line with about 1 m between the top and middle paddles and 1 m between the middle and bottom paddles.After scrubbing the data to eliminate spurious counts, they were able to show that the muons traveled near the speed of light. When that data was combined with muon lifetime data (2.2 microseconds), they made the inference of time dilation for high-speed muons. 


  To celebrate the accomplishment today (6/3) of stable 6.5 TeV proton beams, Darien showed the group the "Collide" cover and video put together by a group at the LHC.



  On Wednesday and Thursday August 12-13 Amanda Bragan Harden, Catherine Newman, Tammy Kjonaas, Mike Wadness, Chris Perkins, Gerry Gagnon, and Rick Dower got together at Roxbury Latin to share stories and work with our QuarkNet cosmic ray detectors. Mike Hirsh stopped by for a while and told us about his time at the CERN HST summer program before he had to fly to Tampa to look in on a relative.  Wednesday we started by catching up on each other’s recent activities. Gerry was at the QuarkNet Data Camp at Fermilab. Mike was in New Mexico for the meeting of the QuarkNet Virtual Center. Rick assisted Ken Cecire at the Johns Hopkins Data Workshop then acted as a facilitator at the University of Kansas Data Workshop. The rest of the day was largely devoted to setting up the detectors and downloading the EQUIP software developed by an Indiana high school student and others at the Perdue QuarkNet center. EQUIP makes data collection much easier and allows the experimenter to assess the quality of the data as it is being gathered (plots of data rates, etc. are assembled in process) rather than wait until data is uploaded and analyzed. EQUIP is available for download at:



With EQUIP Tammy and Chris were able to find that one of their detector paddles had a light leak after they discovered that the count rate went down substantially during lunch when the lab lights were turned off. Similarly, Mike found that one of his cable connections was not reliable after looking at the data rates from an overnight run.

Rick discovered that his computer unexpectedly turned itself off overnight, but that is another story.


  On Thursday, we reviewed the process of “blessing” data as a comparison reference when uploading the data to the QuarkNet server. The we set up the three detectors for a run so that we could practice putting together uploaded data from different detectors. We collected data during lunch and during the time it took to watch the PBS program The Bomb about the Manhattan Project, the atomic anxiety of the '50s and ‘60s, and the nuclear arms control agreements that brought us to today. We streamed the program from WGBH. 

  After some practice analysis of the uploaded data, Tammy and Chris showed us the video that was part of Wheeler School’s Honorable Mention entry in the CERN Beamline-for-Schools contest. Amanda told us about her experience at the week-long Inspiring Science Education conference in Marathonas, Attiki, Greece. Apparently this was the first year that U. S. teachers have attended this European-sponsored conference. The U. S. teachers were selected from among the QuarkNet ranks. Finally, Catherine, a Wheeler student, described some of the experiments she had done with the cosmic ray detector including finding an East-West difference in cosmic ray rates. She used the Penn state software that Rick had distributed last year along with recent updates.That software can be found at


Respectfully submitted,

Rick Dower

University of Illinois Chicago and Chicago State University QuarkNet Centers

Department of Physics

Department of Chemistry and Physics

University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago State University

845 West Taylor St.

9501 South King Drive.  SCI 309

Chicago, IL 60607

Chicago, IL 60628

Tel: (312) 996-3403

Tel: (773) 995 2325



Report of QuarkNet Activities at UIC and CSU during 2014-2015


The QuarkNet Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University provides mentoring, organization and collaborative structure to students and teachers at ten Chicagoland high schools that host cosmic ray detectors. UIC and CSU provides detectors and develops analysis software for students so they can carry out physics experiments based on detecting cosmic ray muons.  Yearly summer workshops are held at UIC during which new students are recruited and trained.

Attendees of the 2015 summer workshop included 4 teachers and 8 students from 5 high schools: Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Golder College Prep, Naperville Central, and Proviso West, as well as CSU and UIC faculty mentors. The workshop was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago from July 13 to July 17. Activities e-Lab analysis activities with CLASA cosmic ray muon data exploring the new TOF and Shower analysis modules, and training on cosmic ray detectors. Students operated detectors and carried our calibrations and experiments measuring the speed of muons and the dependence of muons on detector separation.  They collected data from five detectors systems simultaneously to form a large cosmic ray array: recording one event with 13 muons.  Participants visited Fermilab: touring the D0 detector in the Tevatron; and used computers set up by the Education office to explore statistics and errors by measuring the mass of pennies. The students presented their Cosmic Ray results to each other during the last day of the workshop. Stipends are provided for summer workshop participants.


A wide variety of other cosmic ray activities in addition to school visits and the workshop have taken place this year. At Glenbrook North three projects matured: a multi-year project of the reconstruction of the cosmic ray direction; a proposal to CERN for use of a test beam to simulate radiation damage in nuclear control rods; and a study of whether muon rates are affected by fire.

At Naperville Central students measured muon rates over time and worked on a design to measure rates in a one-degree aperture, along with a veto design to reduce backgrounds from multiple muons.


A Winter one-day workshop was hosted by Naperville Central High School on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  Thirteen QuarkNet participants from five high schools and three research centers attended to discuss the projects they were exploring during the academic year: Muons through Fire, Cosmic Ray Direction Reconstruction, and Observation of a Shadow of Muons Cast by the Sun.


A proposal to mount a 60-counter cosmic ray detector on the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in Chicago was submitted to the city and to the Pavilion’s architect Frank Gehry last year.  The City of Chicago is still reviewing proposals, however UIC is designing a prototype detector based on SIPMs.  We collaborated with others to assemble a prototype and students compared its operation to that of normal QuarkNet detectors during our summer workshop.


During the next grant period, UIC and CSU will continue to visit high school sites to assist students operate their cosmic ray detectors, will mentor students on their choice of experimental activities and will host a week-long summer workshop at UIC for intense experimental training for students, as well as sponsor a fall weekend mini-workshop at CSU 2015.


Adams has also worked extensively with QuarkNet staff to upgrade sections of e-Lab to correct the Cosmic Ray Shower-finding module, calibrate all existing data files for their absolute time determination and design and implement a Time of Flight analysis tool.


Mark Adams

Edmundo Garcia

UIC Professor Emeritus of Physics

CSU Professor of Physics


NDQC Digital Visualization Theater Project

Kenneth Andert (LaLumiere School), Ed Fidler (New Buffalo High School), Jeff Marchant (UND QuarkNet Staff), M. Buckleitner (Lakeshore HS), N. Cramer (Trinity School), Ryan Lawlor (Elkhart Memorial HS)

The DVT (Digital Visualization Theater) is an immersion theater located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in the Jordan Hall Science.  It features a 50-foot-diameter dome that utilizes a pair of Sony SRX-S110 projectors and ten computers for real-time rendering of 3D objects.  This state of the art theater envelops the audience with a 360-degree visual experience.  The Notre Dame QuarkNet Center began the DVT project during the summer of 2008 shortly after the completion of the theater on campus.  The project has continued every summer since and into the academic year.  The first summer one high school teacher was assigned to the project.  In 2009, two high school teachers and two high school students worked on it.  It is a continuing project and has had, including summer 2015, a total of two high school teachers, 16 high school students and two undergrads contributing to it, in addition to one staff person.


The project has harnessed the DVT’s ability to display custom 3D models.  While photographs and models of the various experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are readily available, it can be difficult to envision the proper size and scale of these detectors or the overall size of the LHC itself.  This project has provided a new avenue for exploring the size and structure of the LHC and the detectors within it, using the DVT.  This was accomplished by using a professional software package called LightWave 3D by Newtek.  LightWave is a 3D modeling and rendering software package used by motion picture and television studios for creation of computer graphics and effects.  Teachers, students and staff over the years have created models of the LHC ring, detectors and size comparison objects.  The project started has a means of displaying these custom models.  It has moved beyond that with the creation of a complete show.  Because it is a “live” show it can be custom tailored for the audience.  The audience can be undergrads, high school teachers, middle/high school students or the general public.  Spoken dialogue has been written with an overview of the LHC, its particle detectors and an explanation of what particle physics is and why we do it.  New and exciting additions include the ability to display actual data from the LHC and show the structure matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.  Events from the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector have been imported into the DVT and animated inside the 3D model of it.  While the show was designed for Notre Dame’s DVT, where it has been presented numerous times over the years, it could be used in any similar facility around the world.  The show has been presented at LIPS (Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium) in 2012, 2013 and 2015.  Future plans include continual refinements, showings on campus and sharing our LHC show with other facilities.  Contact people for this project are Dan Karmgard ( and Jeff Marchant (

NDQC CMS Upgrade

Brian Dolezal (St. Joseph's High School), John Taylor (Elkhart Memorial High School), C. Mohs (St. Joseph's High School), N. Siwietz (LaLumiere School)

When Crime Scene Investigators look at a room void of evidence, they are able to use a nearly invisible UV flashlight to “turn on” the room to reveal a myriad of invisible clues.  In a similar way, our device contains exotic scintillating materials that light up, illuminating a quartz capillary tube.  They scream out “over here” – a hidden sub atomic particle came this way.  These Shashlik (Russian for shish-ka-bob) detectors, full of dense tungsten, LISO tiles, and quartz capillary tubes (containing wave-shifting fluid) are being considered as a viable option for use at CERN in the CMS detector.  We predict that the capillary tubes in these devices can be tailored to produce a uniform output signal, despite where they catch an event along their length.  Our research suggests that when constructed with a painted TiO2 bulb end, they perform consistently, if not better as long as voids are centrifuged to the bulb end.  Further research suggests that even after large dosages of radiation, intensity of light output is reduced but mixing performance is very good or improved.  Three test areas with sophisticated set-ups incorporating P/N diodes and CCD imaging were utilized, with data gathered in multiple ways to better understand our device.  These devices may prove ideal for situations detecting electrons, positrons, and photons in the ECAL regions while providing information useful for the HCAL regions of the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN leading to future discoveries in high-energy physics.