Rice University/University of Houston QuarkNet Center Annual Report

During the academic year 2014-2015 our QuarkNet center sponsored six “Saturday Physics” events.  On September 27, 2014, Professor George Reiter of UH presented “Lunar Solar Power” to an audience of about 100 high school students and teachers on the UH campus. On October 15, 2014, Professor Frank Toffoletto of Rice U presented “The Physics of Sound and Music” on the UH campus. On November 15, 2014, Professor Gemunu Gunaratne of UH presented “Asking the Right Questions: Random and Chaotic Motions, Patterns, and Networks” on the UH campus. On February 7, 2015 Professor Lawrence Pinsky of UH presented “Particle Physics and the Standard Model” on the UH campus.  On March 7, 2015, Professor Mini Das of UH presented “Frontiers in X-ray Phase Contrast Imaging” on the UH campus. On April 18, 2015, Professor Pat Reiff of Rice U presented “Magnetism, the Aurora and MMS” on the UH campus.

Our site provided Summer Research Fellowships to eight students: Asta Wu and Brian-Tinh Vu from Dulles High School; Justin Castillo from St. Thomas High School; Nicholas Tong from Elkins High School; Mojdeh Yadollahikhales from Bellaire High School; Nishaa Iqbal from DeBakey High School for Health Professions; Hope Willenborg and Joseph Palakapilly from Clements High School; and fellowships to two teachers: Alain Harvey from Jersey Village High School, and Sanjay Gupta from The Summit High School. We received about 40 applications for the 8 student positions and 2 applications for the teacher positions. The student fellowships lasted six weeks and the teacher fellowships lasted eight weeks starting June 15. The fellows were also treated to four luncheon seminars by professors, Kouri, Chu, Pinsky, and Meen.

A one-week workshop was held on the Rice campus from June 22-26, 2015. We had 13 teachers in attendance each day. Robert Baker from Quarknet visited us the first two days of the workshop.  Each morning we had talks on topics of interest. Marj Corcoran talked about outstanding problems in particle physics and the Mu2e Experiment. Jason Hafner, a physics professor at Rice, talked about his research in biophysics. Jason also talked about his experience with videotaping his introductory physics lectures and offering an online course to the general public (very successful!). Stephan Bradshaw, also a physics professor at Rice, talked about his research in solar physics. Lisa Whitehead from the University of Houston talked about her work in neutrino physics. One of the teachers, Karen Hampton, gathered the slides from all the talks and set up a Google Drive web site so that the talks would be available to everyone.

During the afternoon we worked on the cosmic ray detectors. We had a total of six detectors, including two that had been returned to QuarkNet because they were not being used. All six detectors were up and running by the end of the workshop. On the last day two of the detectors took data in shower mode simultaneously. We intend to look for coincidences in this data between the two detectors, which were on opposite sides of the room. 

Maikel Garcia's detector was returned to Rice in the spring of 2015, since he had left teaching. Robert Sullivan, one of the QuarkNet regulars, worked with Maikel's detector, which was working very well by the end of the workshop.  He took this detector to use in his school. The second detector which had been returned to Rice was taken back to Fermilab by Marj Corcoran in July. 

Two of the teachers who are regular workshop attendees (Julia Bell and Linda Bazard) attended the Data Camp at Fermilab in July.

Submitted by Marj Corcoran and Robert Dubois