Colorado State University QuarkNet Center 2016 Annual Report

QuarkNet Center @ Colorado State University

FY 2015-2016 Annual Report


Faculty mentors: Dr. Bob Wilson, Physics Professor, Physics Department, Colorado State University

Lead teachers: Cherie Bornhorst, Science Teacher, Loveland High School; and Adam Pearlstein, Teacher in Residence, Colorado State University


The Colorado State Quarknet Center is now in its 5th year. In the first two years of our program, we focused on cosmic ray research, and deployed 4 detectors at high schools on the Front Range. In our third year we worked to expand our program; both in membership of teachers, and to include other aspects of high energy physics, and were trained on the use of the CMS e-Lab. The focus our fourth year was classroom application; to train our teachers on the use of their CRMD’s with the new EQUIP program, and hosting students for our first annual Masterclass event. And this year’s focus is to build on the strengths and skill sets of the teachers involved with our program, and to explore even more ways to bring high energy data into the classroom!



Our Masterclass this year at CSU was unfortunately cancelled due to over a foot of snow that fell on the scheduled day. We’re looking forward to resuming with Masterclass again next year!


Quarknet@CSU Workshop:

A five day workshop was held at CSU on June 13-17, 2016, and mostly took place in the Physics 111 Lab at CSU. The workshop dates coincided with the US Particle Accelerator Summer School program, which was held in Fort Collins this summer. Monday morning we were invited to partake in the USPAS and hear introductory lectures from 3 different HEP researchers and professors from CSU. This included an introduction to the “Physics of the Universe” by our mentor, Professor Bob Wilson, an “Introduction to the Standard Model” from Professor Walter Toki who works with the T2K experiment, and an “Overview of Cosmic Ray Physics” by Professor John Harton who works with the Auger experiment. After a morning of lectures, we traveled to CSU where we spent the remainder of the week. A major goal of the remaining 4.5 days was to expose teachers to the resources and activities available through the Quarknet Data Portfolio. Monday afternoon teachers were led through the Plotting the LHC activity, and TOTEM Data Express. Tuesday morning started with a share-a-thon with our teachers. We had a great time sharing resources we use in our classrooms, and of one of the major highlights was a lab setup for the Milliken experiment that many of us hadn’t seen before. We are applying for funds next year to build a couple sets of this lab setup that we can share among our teachers. Tuesday afternoon our mentor, Professor Bob Wilson gave a presentation on his research in neutrino oscillation and work with the LBNE experiment. We got to tour his lab and hear from the graduate students who were prototyping the detectors that will surround the DUNE experiment.  Wednesday and Thursday of the workshop we spent time working with our Cosmic Ray Muon Detectors, and running Lifetime and Time of Flight studies which we had not done in previous years. This gave us all time to refresh ourselves on working with the detectors and the Cosmic Ray E-lab, as well as teach the new teacher to our group how to use the equipment.

The final day of the workshop was dedicated time for the teachers to continue learning more about cosmic rays and setup their CRMD’s in their classrooms. Teachers took data with the cosmic ray detectors, using the new Java-based program, EQUIP, which allows teachers a real-time look at muon counts on each channel during data collection, as well as an ease of user interface. Teachers had time to review the steps necessary to collect data that is “blessed”, and therefore open-source data once uploaded to the Cosmic Ray eLab. The detectors are currently with teachers at 3 Colorado high schools, namely: Cherokee Trail High School, Berthoud High School, and Greeley West High School.


Teachers participating in the summer workshop:

Cherie Bornhorst, Loveland High School

Adam Pearlstein, Colorado State University

Zach Armstrong, Greeley West High School

Chris Nichols, Castleview High School

Roger Felch, Castleview High School

Austin Gager, Cherokee Trail High School