University of Illinois Chicago and Chicago State University QuarkNet Centers

Department of Physics

Department of Chemistry and Physics

University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago State University

845 West Taylor St.

9501 South King Drive.  SCI 309

Chicago, IL 60607

Chicago, IL 60628

Tel: (312) 996-3403

Tel: (773) 995 2325



Report of QuarkNet Activities at UIC and CSU during 2014-2015


The QuarkNet Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University provides mentoring, organization and collaborative structure to students and teachers at ten Chicagoland high schools that host cosmic ray detectors. UIC and CSU provides detectors and develops analysis software for students so they can carry out physics experiments based on detecting cosmic ray muons.  Yearly summer workshops are held at UIC during which new students are recruited and trained.

Attendees of the 2015 summer workshop included 4 teachers and 8 students from 5 high schools: Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Golder College Prep, Naperville Central, and Proviso West, as well as CSU and UIC faculty mentors. The workshop was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago from July 13 to July 17. Activities e-Lab analysis activities with CLASA cosmic ray muon data exploring the new TOF and Shower analysis modules, and training on cosmic ray detectors. Students operated detectors and carried our calibrations and experiments measuring the speed of muons and the dependence of muons on detector separation.  They collected data from five detectors systems simultaneously to form a large cosmic ray array: recording one event with 13 muons.  Participants visited Fermilab: touring the D0 detector in the Tevatron; and used computers set up by the Education office to explore statistics and errors by measuring the mass of pennies. The students presented their Cosmic Ray results to each other during the last day of the workshop. Stipends are provided for summer workshop participants.


A wide variety of other cosmic ray activities in addition to school visits and the workshop have taken place this year. At Glenbrook North three projects matured: a multi-year project of the reconstruction of the cosmic ray direction; a proposal to CERN for use of a test beam to simulate radiation damage in nuclear control rods; and a study of whether muon rates are affected by fire.

At Naperville Central students measured muon rates over time and worked on a design to measure rates in a one-degree aperture, along with a veto design to reduce backgrounds from multiple muons.


A Winter one-day workshop was hosted by Naperville Central High School on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  Thirteen QuarkNet participants from five high schools and three research centers attended to discuss the projects they were exploring during the academic year: Muons through Fire, Cosmic Ray Direction Reconstruction, and Observation of a Shadow of Muons Cast by the Sun.


A proposal to mount a 60-counter cosmic ray detector on the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in Chicago was submitted to the city and to the Pavilion’s architect Frank Gehry last year.  The City of Chicago is still reviewing proposals, however UIC is designing a prototype detector based on SIPMs.  We collaborated with others to assemble a prototype and students compared its operation to that of normal QuarkNet detectors during our summer workshop.


During the next grant period, UIC and CSU will continue to visit high school sites to assist students operate their cosmic ray detectors, will mentor students on their choice of experimental activities and will host a week-long summer workshop at UIC for intense experimental training for students, as well as sponsor a fall weekend mini-workshop at CSU 2015.


Adams has also worked extensively with QuarkNet staff to upgrade sections of e-Lab to correct the Cosmic Ray Shower-finding module, calibrate all existing data files for their absolute time determination and design and implement a Time of Flight analysis tool.


Mark Adams

Edmundo Garcia

UIC Professor Emeritus of Physics

CSU Professor of Physics