2013 Annual Report - FIT

This year FIT had a new mentor, new students, and new teachers attend the annual summer workshop. Mike Green, Jessica Philips, Mark Webb, John Carlson and Karen Flickinger were the teachers that attended the summer FIT conference. Maya Burley, Natalie Barton, Nicole O’Donnell, and Ashley Beard were the students attending the conference. The teacher in charge was Michael O’Donnell from Palm Bay High.  The summer workshop ran from June 3, 2013 to July 12,  2013.

                During the first week all participants attended. Dr. Baksay gave the first talk on the History of Quarknet at FIT. The computers and equipment were all up and running prior to student/teacher arrival. Data was collected on the first day which was a great help in introducing the topic to the new teachers and new students. Later in the day, Mr. O’Donnell gave a presentation on the history of Quarknet from Perdue University. Students were able to get together and work on an activity posted on www.particleadventure.org while teachers worked together to make lesson plans on particle physics.

On the second day of the workshop, Mr. O’Donnell introduced to the students and teachers the simulator on Rutherford’s experiment.  Tom Jordan was in attendance to help with the plateauing of the paddles. After lunch a presentation of lightning detection was given by Dr. Joseph Dwyer. A lot of work on the plateauing the paddles was performed over the next 3 days with both the students and the teachers. Jessica Philips found a great interactive game called Quarkle. The lesson plan on particle physics had students matching quark charges to gain points.  The remaining presentations for the student/teacher workshop were given by Joe Laub (FIT U-teach Program), Dr. Lindeman (sustainability) and Dr. Barman (Higgs Boson).

After the student teacher workshop the students remained at FIT for the next 5 weeks, collecting data, making weekly reports, research posters, and building equipment. Most projects were based on the formula Question: Are Muon counts correlated with (variable)?  Students were taught how to carry out a correlation coefficient (r-value) and its meaning. Students were instructed on how to perform a correlation coefficient on the excel spread sheet along with creating graphs for presenting data in the poster format. Brainstorming ideas on space and atmospheric conditions that might affect muon numbers was carried out. The following variables were studied by the students: Atmospheric temperature, Humidity, Barometric pressure, Ocean tides (pull of gravity), Ozone levels and Moon phases. A group project was also performed on the Effect of an electric field produced by a plasma ball near the detectors. In order to carry out this experiment, the electric field of the plasma ball had to be identified. The lab book, Fusion-Physics of Fundamental Energy sources, 2007 was used as a guide and background information about plasma balls. A faraday also had to be built to test the concepts of blocking the electric field. Since the needed equipment was readily available at a local HS, the building of the faraday cage was carried out in the Lab room of Palm Bay under Mr. O’Donnell’s supervision.

In conclusion, the students uploaded weekly reports on their projects and create Quarknet posters on each project.  The group collaborated on the large project involving the faraday cage and plasma ball. A poster on this project was also posted on quarknet on the last day, July 12, 2013. The equipment will be stored at PBHS for loan to any participant. Students were also asked to give a short presentation to their Physics or Research class in the up-coming school year. Presentation is intended to give an overview of the equipment, what particle physics is and what research was performed over the summer.