2014 Annual Report - Fermilab-U Chicago

The University of Chicago sponsored its annual student summer research and teacher workshop for its 8th year. The summer research began June 23rd and went until August 1st. The three day teacher workshop spanned from July 29th to August 1st. This year’s summer activities included two mentor teachers, nine high school students (8 incoming seniors and 1 incoming junior), 12 physics teachers, and one lead scientist. Teachers from the workshop primarily were from the suburbs west of Chicago, all having taught physics or will be teaching physics this upcoming year. We had a good spread in gender, age, and years of experience in the classroom.

The summer research was extremely exciting for the students this year. Each student worked together with a mentor scientist on an experiment of their choosing. The students’ experiments ranged greatly. Some were modeling neutrino beams while others were developing automated code to be used on the CMS at CERN. Some were checking equipment malfunctions while others were learning to use Fourier transforms to isolate individual signal frequencies (these are high school students!). During the week, students would have the opportunity to attend lectures by well-known scientists as well as go on tours and nature walks. We would also have weekly meetings on Wednesdays to talk about logistics and the progress on the students’ experiments. Finally, for the teacher workshop, each student prepared a presentation to give on their experiment. All of these went well and we are extremely proud of their progress and accomplishments. Many of the students, although experiencing many frustrations, expressed a deep feeling of sorrow to have to leave their new friends which attests to the degree they loved being here for the summer.

The teacher workshop was also a great success. The three days were very similar. First an opening discussion with Chris Stoughton, the lead scientist, followed by a “Chalk-Talk” by a scientist. Usually, we would only have three scientists, however this year we had four: Don Lincoln, Deborah Harris, James Hocker, and Joe Lykken. We were fortunate to hear about topics from a wide variety of areas of study: Neutrinos, Dzero, SRF cavities, and theoretical physics. Following the scientist chalk-talk, three students would give their presentations. During and after every presentation, teachers were allowed and encouraged to ask questions. In fact, the theoretical physics presentation by Joe Lykken was dominated by questions from teachers, which is to be expected. Following the presentations and lunch, tours were given. This year we went to Dzero, NuMi Underground, and the Industrial building in Fermilab. Depending on the day, after the tour, we had other types of activities, either another tour or another presentation. Finally we ended each day with a discussions related to bringing what the teachers learned at Fermilab back to their classroom.

All in all, this year’s research and workshop was one of the best yet. Both teachers and students expressed their satisfaction from this summer. One teacher commented that this year had the best scientist talks. We are also now in the works of planning three different events to encourage and help teachers in areas they requested. We have planned a python learning workshop, a trip to Adler planetarium, and a possible two day master class in particle physics for those teachers that attended.

Mentors: Chris Stoughton and Tom Carter