2014 Annual Report - University of Kansas

University of Kansas QuarkNet Center

Summer 2014 annual report

            The two main activities of the University of Kansas QuarkNet center for the 2013-14 academic year were the summer research program for high school students, conducted May 27 through July 18, 2014 and a four-day workshop for physics teachers held June 10 through 13, 2014.

            Prof. Phil Baringer and Prof. Dave Besson served as mentors and organizers of the summer research program. Prof. Alice Bean also assisted with providing and supervising student projects. Jim Deane of Ottawa High School, Ottawa, Kansas, returned for his second year as our research teacher. Postdoc Jordan Hanson and graduate student Steven Prohira played important roles in supervising student projects.

           Thirteen high school researchers were taken on for the seven-week research program. We interviewed applicants for the student positions in mid-May and accepted 13 outstanding students for the program. Our research students for summer 2013 were: Ryan Alverez, Taber Fischer, Eilish Gibson, Hannah Gibson, Rachel Green, Ashley Hutton, Jason Irwin, Christoph Kinzel, Laura Neilsen, Kaustubb Nimkar, Conner Sabbert, Tara Sacerdote and Killashandra Scheuring.  Only one student (Eilish Gibson) had been in the program previous summers. A meeting with all of the students was held on May 27 where we administered the pre-test and matched students with projects. This summer’s projects were:  CMS data simulations of single top quark production, surface propagation of radio waves, radio detection of meteors, Quarked! game development (see www.quarked.org),  and using Arduino mini-computers to create interactive demonstrations.

            Eleven of the students took a field trip to Chicago July 7 through 10. Research teacher Deane and graduate student Steven Prohira led the two-van caravan from Kansas to Illinois. July 8 was spent touring Fermilab and July 9 was devoted to touring Chicago, particularly the Museum of Science and Industry.

            While at KU, the research students typically worked 20 hours per week on their projects with their groups and their project supervisor. Each Friday the group as a whole met for a pizza lunch and for talks about physics. These talks included introductory presentations on particle physics and a discussion of the recent BICEP2 finding on inflationary cosmology. On July 18, the student research teams gave presentations of their results during a special two-hour pizza lunch session. Post-tests and surveys were given after the presentations. A group photo was taken by department photographer Kim Hubbel after our final meeting, showing twelve of the thirteen students and mentors Baringer, Deane, Hanson and Prohira. (Photo can be seen in attached pdf version of this report.)

            The summer 2014 workshop for area high school physics teachers had two parts. The first three days of the workshop were focused on cosmic ray detectors and investigations that can be done with them. This part of the workshop was led by Bob Peterson from Fermilab who had the teachers assemble detectors, gather and analyze cosmic ray data using hardware and software developed by QuarkNet. On Thursday, June 12, the teachers gave presentations on their work. The last day of the workshop was led by center mentor Baringer who led a discussion of physics teaching resources for active classroom learning. This last day was a follow-up to last summer’s workshop. Five teachers attended the cosmic ray workshop and two additional teachers attended the last day (they unfortunately had scheduling conflicts earlier that week).


Addendum: Agenda for last day of teacher workshop

QuarkNet Workshop

Friday, June 13, 2014

Room 6051 Malott


9:00-10:00 Introductory Physics course reform at KU—presentation by Phil Baringer

10:00-10:15 Break

10:30-11:45 Online resources—group discussion

11:45-1:30 (in 3005 Malott) Pizza lunch; presentation on “Particle Accelerators in Nature” by Prof. Tom Cravens; discussion with QuarkNet summer research students

1:30-4:00 Group discussion on effective group problem solving exercises, clicker questions, and other interactive in-class learning strategies