Quarked! Particle Physics Games

Names: Austin A. Irvine, Jefferson West High School, Meriden, KS

Zach L. Harris, Lawrence Free State High School, Lawrence, KS

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

Research Mentors: Prof. Philip Baringer, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Prof. Alice Bean, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Purpose: The goal of the work in Quarked is to make educational particle physics games primarily for grade school students, but can be played by people of all ages. Quarked is the foundation for influencing kids and teenagers to become scientists.  Quarked is an extremely important part of QuarkNet because it allows students learn about particle physics along with making it possible for others to have the same opportunity at no cost.  Quarked is a fantastic program that involves, not only learning, but it also involves teaching other how science can be fun.

Methods: We learned to program in ActionScript and to animate 2d objects in Adobe Flash. Once sample code was created, we tested the code by playing segments of the games and refining the code to produce the desired gameplay.

Results: We wrote hundreds to thousands of lines of code, and we created countless loops and statements inside of our code.  We created step-by-step animations and tested our games out at least fifty times a day.  Additionally, we worked on two games that are both very close to being finished.  One of the games in named Mass Matters and the other game is named Tracker.  The Mass Matters game involves shooting quarks and leptons through the higgs field to see their interactions with Higgs Boson.  The goal of the Mass Matters game is to determine the mass order of the particles depending on the amount of interactions with Higgs Boson.  The Tracker game involves shooting electrons and positrons through an array of detectors.  The goal of the Tracker game is determine where the particle will go depending the type of particle and its energy level.

Meaning to Larger Project: The larger project is the collection of games and activities at the www.quarked.org website. Our work contributed to the development of games that are near production and those that are in the early stages of development. The Quarked.org website is intended to be a site that reaches students at early ages and helps them to understand some basic ideas of particle physics while showing them that thinking about science can be fun and rewarding.

Future Research: The next step in this project will be to finish the current games, Tracker and Mass Matters.  There are still a few issues with the first level of Mass Matters, but they are miniscule problems.  The rest of the work for the two games mainly entails finishing both of the second levels in the games.  After that, the main goal should be to start transferring all of the games to both Android and iOS devices.  Once all of the games are on more devices, they will be accessible to larger crowds people.

We appreciate the assistance and guidance of the following students during this project.

  • Patrick Shields, University of Kansas