U Penn Abstract - D. Rostovtsev

For me, QuarkNet was a series of firsts.  First time learning about cosmic rays, first time using an FPGA, first time using a Raspberry Pi, first time soldering with a microscope, first time seeing scintillators and drift tubes and first time sitting in on lectures in a lecture hall.  Also, being a sophomore, it was my first paycheck, first nine to five and first debit card.

One of the coolest things we did was visit Brookhaven National Labs.  There I saw a real particle detector for the first time.  It was incredible how large it was, and it was also incredible how much of the specifics about the scintillators and drift tubes and silicon detectors made sense after learning about them and using them in QuarkNet.  The whole experience made me feel like I new a little more than I thought I did before.  It closed the gap for me between reading in a book that there are these things I have never seen before called muons and quarks and actually seeing in real life how these things are discovered.

In the lab, I was really happy to find that we gained a ton of specific knowledge and skills with building the detector.  The experience was very hands on. I learned how to program in Verilog and I got to build two adapters for the Raspberry Pi in Godwin’s lab.  I also got to program a ton in python and learned how to use oscilloscopes, pulsars and NEM crates.  So even though we may or may not finish the project, I think that for me, QuarkNet was a great success.