Higgs Boson Game Developed in Adobe Flash

Student Researchers: Ashley Hutton, Lawrence High School, Lawrence KS

Research Teacher Mentor: James Deane, Ottawa High School, Ottawa KS

Research Mentors: Alice Bean, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS

Patrick Shields, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS

Phil Baringer, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS



The development of this project came from the desire to entertainingly educate others of the newly discovered Higgs Boson. The game will eventually be published on the “Quarked!” website. This website includes games and videos and information that help students and others understand particle physics in an easier way. The Higgs game in particular, “Hanging With Higgs,” addresses the Higgs’ interaction with other particles. The Higgs and the other particles are represented by animated characters, helping individuals to grasp the physics concepts.


Hanging With Higgs was created using Adobe Flash. The graphics of the game were mostly edited in Adobe Photoshop. As the team members were unfamiliar with these platforms, the first few weeks were spent learning and understanding these programs enough to successfully develop this game. Information on the physics of particle interactions was obtained from and through Alice Bean, Patrick Shields and Phil Baringer.

A companion project in designing and posing the characters was completed by a colleague in the summer research program and is reported separately.


The game currently has two levels. In the first level, the player must correctly select the interaction strength the Higgs has with a randomly selected particle. The different interaction strengths are represented by unique Higgs poses. For example, the Higgs and the electron have a very small interaction, so the Higgs is extending his arm to touch only the tip of the electron, showing very little contact with the particle.

The second level features a cannon from which a random particle is launched to collide with the Higgs. The player's objective is to determine the speed the particle will be traveling after it interacts with the Higgs. The player is able to do this by adjusting a gauge on screen. These two levels will hopefully help students gain an understanding of the difficult Higgs interaction concept.

When ready for deployment, the project game will be hosted on the Quarked! website, http://www.quarked.org/

Meaning and Further Study

Modern research in particle physics including the discovery and analysis of the Higgs particle is often difficult for classroom teachers at all levels to incorporate into standard science curriculum. This game and others on the Quarked! website provide teachers and students with an interactive environment that promotes curiosity, basic knowledge, and a base for further study. We expect future development will include the production of more levels of the Higgs game, as well as new games highlighting other areas of particle physics.