University of Minnesota - 2016 Annual Report

Minnesota teachers at the NOvA far detector.

This year (2016), the University of Minnesota held its 13th annual QuarkNet teacher workshops. Mentors Daniel Cronin-Hennessy, Satish Desai and Ken Heller worked with lead teachers Jon Anderson and Shane Wood to organize this year's content. Minnesota HEP administrator Andrea Stronghart organized rooms, lunches, and paperwork. Eleven total teachers took part in at least a portion of the five workshop days this year. During the first three days (13-15 June), QuarkNet cosmic fellow Martin Shaffer led a cosmic workshop; the final two workshop days (3-4 August) consisted of talks about and tours of the NOvA far detector near Ash River, Minnesota. 

The 2016 cosmic workshop was hosted by Minnesota QuarkNet teacher Karen Phillips at the Blake School in Minneapolis where she is a physics teacher. On day one of this workshop, participating teachers assembled a new cosmic ray muon detector (CRMD), heard a lunch talk by U of M researcher Gwynne Crowder on the recent gravitational wave discoveries at LIGO, pleateaued and set up a total of 4 CRMDs for overnight data collection. On day two, teachers worked with Equip and the cosmic e-Lab, conducted performance studies of the data, and worked in small groups in order to conduct a more in-depth investigation with the CRMDs. Data continued to be collected overnight on the second night, then on the third day, groups finished analysis and presented to each other their results during a poster session. The cosmic workshop concluded with a discussion around classroom implementation.

Teachers met again in August for a 2-day workshop centered around PER (physics education research), and the neutrino experiment NOvA. Day one of this workshop (3 August) started at the U of M where teachers heard from three teachers and their summer QuarkNet travels/experiences: Mike Cartwright (ISE in Greece) and from Jay Dornfeld and Michael Plucinski who both attended Data Camp at Fermilab. Ken Heller gave a talk that described the NOvA experiment and prepared teachers for the tour. Ken also gave a talk about problem solving in physics; something on which his PER group has been working for years. Teachers spent the second portion the first day traveling to near Ash River, MN. On day two (4 August) teachers met at the NOvA far detector where Ken Heller gave a tour of the facility while teachers asked many questions. Teachers then traveled back to Minneapolis during the final portion of these two days.