2014 Annual Report - University of Minnesota

The QuarkNet workshop at the University of Minnesota this year (2014) on the week of Aug 11. As usual, the agenda and activities were organized by the lead teachers Shane Wood and Jon Anderson. Daniel Cronin-Hennessy served as QuarkNet mentor. This year Bob Peterson from Fermi National Accelerator lab provided 3 days of specialized training for the participants (described below). Finally Jody Kaplan , Minnesota HEP administrator organized rooms, lunches and paperwork. Twelve teachers were in the workshop this year.
There was a philosophical shift in our program this year. Typically we try to recruit new participants and expose them to an introductory level material on the standard model and modern particle detectors with an emphasis on demonstrations and concepts that can be utilized in their high school classrooms. This year the participants all had participated in previous workshops. The emphasis for this workshop was to increase the depth of knowledge in a specific area. Our focus was on the cosmic ray telescopes and the use of e-lab in representing data from these telescopes. Bob Peterson came for three days and gave in depth instruction. The goal was that the teachers would have sufficient knowledge to begin to establish a cosmic ray telescope at their own institution. 
The first day of the workshop focused on the logistics, overview of cosmic ray science, and overview of QuarkNet in the first half. In the second half the teachers were presented with the hardware components of the telescope and started to workout how to assemble a working unit (with help from Bob). After assembly they performed the plateauing procedure and recorded the particular geometry that was chosen. They also discussed possible measurements each team (each pair) would make over night. The next day they began their introduction to analysis with an overview of e-lab. By the end of the first half of the day they had learned to upload their data from the previous night and learned how to generate graphs in several different layouts. We spent about 1.5 hours discussing the results. The various dependencies the groups looked at included cosmic rates with pressure, temperature, angle and time. They had to deal with issues such as accounting for geometrical differences between the various telescopes used in their studies. We hypothesized several reasons for their observed behavior and discussed follow up experiments that could be used to discriminate various hypotheses. All in all this workshop provided an intense introduction to a complete cycle of experiment – from assembling the detectors to analyzing data and then interpreting the data. 
On Thursday the tone changed and we focused on the physics of neutrino oscillations. Dan Cronin-Hennessy gave a talk on the physics and Kanika Sachdev provided a nice introduction to the MINOS and NOvA neutrino experiments. The remainder of the day was spent using the mechanical harmonic oscillators in order to understand the mathematics and physics of neutrino oscillations. This attempt was experimental and the teachers judged it as a very effective way of 
communicating the physics of oscillations. So much so that we are considering an applet on the web to achieve the same goal. The motivation for this approach was from Ken Cecire. One high school teacher who uses coupled oscillations for other purposes in their class taught us a very slick method of controlling the coupling of the oscillators (this was one of their assignments that day). We hope to document this activity more thoroughly soon. The final day of the workshop was a visit to Soudan lab, which hosts the MINOS neutrino Oscillation experiment. 
In summary, this year we experimented with a very different type of QuarkNet workshop. I found the teachers highly engaged and enjoying each of the offerings that week. We will hopefully continue to refine and improve our workshops in the future.
Daniel Cronin-Hennessy
Associate Professor of Physics, University of Minnesota
Photo 1: QN Teachers exploring how to control coupling of oscillators. They measured the period for the normal modes to recycle the original “flavor” of oscillation as a function of the coupling.
Photo 2: QN Teachers visiting Soudan Lab.


View PDF of this report: http://leptoquark.hep.nd.edu/~kcecire/drupal_lib/files2014/QNReport2014umn.pdf.