DRAFT/TEST - Vanderbilt University QuarkNet 2017 Annual Report


The Vanderbilt University QuarkNET group is mentored by William (Bill) Gabella, which much help from emeritus mentor Medford Webster and a volunteer teacher Terry King.  We advise the teachers and students on the use of the Cosmic Ray Muon Detectors (CRMDs), we maintain them, and we help with either setup of our loaned out CRMDs or with those that are permanently at the school.  We also host the 5 day summer workshop for the teachers.

Cosmic Ray Muon Detectors

The Vanderbilt QuarkNET has three conventional cosmic ray muon detectors  and one "unconventional" one---it has smaller scintillator paddles.  The one with the small scintillators is most useful for looking at attenuation of the muon flux with materials, like water, or bricks, stacked between pairs of scintillators.  These are routinely loaned to our high school teachers for their club and classroom work.  Starting a few years ago, our most active high schools now have their own CRMDs, with four sets in the area.

Summer Workshop 24-28 July 2017

The summer workshop is one of the important events on our QuarkNET calendar, and it occurred on 24-28 July 2017.  It was attended by 9 teachers, and included an outing to Middle Tennessee State University where we were able to see presentations by several of the professors on astronomy, physics education, and the Radio Jove outreach project.  We also had a visit from Marla Glover who presented a CMS Data Class for several days.

Monday and Tuesday included talks on the status of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the status of the CMS detector, and on the CMS searches for Dark Matter particles.  We heard from Gabella, Dr. Will Johns, and Dr. Alfredo Gurolla, local faculty at Vanderbilt. Dr. Johns reported over Vidyo from CERN where he had been overseeing the work on the Pixel (sub) detector upgrade.  We also hear from a local astronomer, Dr. Billy Teets about the total eclipse that would occur in the area on August 21st.  That was especially helpful for the teachers as their classes would be several weeks or more into the semester, and high school science teachers were important in educating the public about the eclipse.

This year we did a little more than just status and news, in preparation for Marla Glover's Data School, Gabella introduced the CMS detector in greater detail and gave a short primer on special relativity and 4-momentum.



We also had talks on the status of LIGO's gravitational wave discoveries and a travelogue from Terry Kink who visited LIGO Hanford late this summer and had a lovely tour.  One of our teachers Nick Horton also presented on the topic of "Understanding Alpha and Beta Radiation" and presented us with a draft of a paper on the same topic.  His goal was instructional with an eye to state (and other) standards.

Both Monday and Tuesday we had a little unprogrammed time in the afternoon to discuss eLab and the cosmic ray muon detectors.

On Wednesday we visited Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, about 45 minutes from Nashville and a fast growing state university.  We had presentations from Dr. Eric Klump about the observatory he had designed, funded, and built right on the middle of campus.  It is novel not only for that, but for having several large screen monitors visible from the observatory exterior for classes to see what is on the telescope.  He also trains small groups of undergraduates to run the scope for their own research and for star gazing events.  Dr. Klump also designed a uniques Stonehenge-esque sculpture called the Uranidrome.  It contains many hidden "Easter eggs," but what you can see is that from certain positions on the pavement, certain pillars line up on important parts of the sky.  Also the planets and sun's relative sizes are respresented.

Terry King and an MTSU undergraduate student demonstrated the Radio Jove receiver and antenna, used to pick up the radio emissions around 21 MHz from the Sun and also from Jupiter.  This is a NASA funded outreach project that Dr. Chuck Higgins manages.  He was out of town on Wednesday but joined us on Friday at Vanderbilt to discuss the physics of interest with radio astronomy directed at Jupiter.

We also heard from Dr. Brian Frank about his research in physics education, especially with several lessons he demonstrated for us.  MTSU's program has historically emphasized laboratory or hands-on work over typical lectures.  This year they have dropped typical lectures altogether.  All classes are laboratory classes, though with lectures often some time during that period.  The examples were useful for our high school teachers for their classrooms.

King and Gabella then led the group in some more hands-on experiments with optics, focusing on polarization.

Marla Glover joined us Thursday and Friday to lead us on CMS Data.  She started with manipulatives and games to demonstrate some of the principles, like the Quark Workbench to build particles from quarks, or the Penny Mass to find via histograms that there were two classes of penny by mass.

We also analyzed Totem data for diffraction results of proton scattering and made a histogram no the wall with postit notes.  This really seemed like a great way to introduce historgrams in high school or younger.  For the teachers, it was a chance to see real CMS (Totem) data and build the pair of peaks on the plus and the minus angle side of the detector's centerline.  That was great.

Marla also did a great job introducing some four momentum analysis of pictures of particles collisions and the resulting particles coming from the decay of a Z boson.  We all analyzed our pictures, measuring angles, and coming up with the mass of a particle that might have been the intermediate state (which it was, of course).

All-in-all, the workshop came off well and was useful for the teachers not only to see a different, nearby university and its resources, but to see the CMS physics that is accessible to their students.  The timing of the workshop, though historically the last week of July, was not a good fit this year.  A poll was taken early in the year to ask which week worked best and this week was chosen.  But several of our school districts had their teachers start early, either the workshop week or the week after.  This kept several of our regular teachers from attending much of the workshop.  Next year this scheduling will be done a little more carefully...though with no obvious answer to the problem or summer school programs, vacations, and the start of the new year.

Links of Interest

Local web page     http://www.hep.vanderbilt.edu/~gabellwe/qnweb

Facebook group page    https://www.facebook.com/groups/682323215235912/

Vanderbilt QuarkNET Page (drupal, i.e. here)   /group/vanderbilt-university-quarknet-center

Top QuarkNET i2u2 page    /

[Written and edited by Bill Gabella 20170917]