2014 Annual Report - University of Houston and Rice University

During the academic year 2013-2014, our QuarkNet center sponsored four “Saturday Physics” events.  On October 12, 2013, Professor Frank Geurts of Rice presented “The Standard Model and the Higgs Particle” to an audience of about 100 high school students and teachers on the UH campus. On December 7, 2013, Professor Lisa Whitehead of UH presented “A Quick Tour of Neutrino Physics” to more than 75 attendees on the UH campus. On February 15, 2014 Professor Alex Freundlich of UH presented on the science and technology of solar cells to abouit 75 attendees at UH.  On April 12, 2014, Professor Jim Meen of UH presented “Superconductors: Materials for the 21st Century” to an audience of about 25 students, teachers, and parents at UH.

Our site provided Summer Research Fellowships to eight students: Nihal Dhamani, Timothy Hemlin, and Anirudha Chatterji from Dulles High School; Rebecca Fracek from Texas City High School; Brikitta Hairston from Elkins High School; Mohammed Shobaki from Dobie High School; Catherine Turet from Memorial High School; and Ryan Zeutschel from Cypress Creek High School; and fellowships to two teachers: Jeremy Pruitt from Cypress Creek High School, and Tasha Brown from Channelview High School. We received about 40 applications for the 8 student positions and 5 applications for the teacher positions. The fellowships lasted six weeks starting June 16. The fellows were also treated to four luncheon seminars by professors, Freundlich, Kouri, Hungerford, and Meen; and to a video on the science of climate change.

Our Summer Workshop for high school teachers was held June 23-27 on the Rice campus.  We had 14 teachers in attendance, some of them new to Quarknet.  Each morning we had a lecture by one of the Rice faculty members. Topics included the aurora, exoplanets, star formation,  and exotic materials. Teachers who had attended last year’s workshop requested that Frank Geurts  give his “standard model” talk again, and Marj Corcoran talked about Noether’s theorem and symmetries in physics. We had a tour of the Rice on-campus observatory and a tour of Professor Emilia Morosan’s condensed matter physics lab, including a fun demonstration of high temperature superconductors.

The afternoons were devoted to work with the cosmic ray detectors. We had four detectors from different schools, all set up in one of our labs in the physics building.  The teachers got excellent hands-on experience setting up the detectors and plateauing the counters.  We had excellent GPS reception and made a first attempt at looking for correlated air showers between two detectors in an overnight run. We pinpointed a few problems with two of the detectors and are in the process of getting those problems addressed. We have had outstanding response from the Fermilab CRMD team. In sorting out the problems with the detectors.

Submitted by 

Marj Corcoran and Robert Dubois