Day 8: Welcome to The Fermilab

Modern Physics met today and spent a little more time on their particle adventure. Even though they didn’t finish, we moved on to a new activity so that we didn’t spend too much time at once buried in a website with so many new terms (and tigers and top hats!).

particle adventure 1

During the particle adventure, one group spent some time talking to me about where the top quark was discovered.

“In a lab.”

“In a fermilab.”

“The Fermilab.”

“Oh, okay. In the fermilab.”

Me: “I would probably say it ‘At Fermilab.'”

The next activity happened to be finding the mass of the top quark (another QuarkNet Data Portfolio activity), so I got to introduce it by saying, “Welcome to the Fermilab.” I started out by sharing this tweet and talking a little about my experience at Data Camp this summer:

Then I showed them this image and they had unending numbers of amazing questions.

top quark collision

They even had the idea already that the detector wouldn’t be able to detect the neutrino, that the momentum would have to be conserved and would add up to zero, and more. We eventually put a pause on the questions, agreeing that there would be plenty of time to go more in depth about how detectors functioned and wanting to get to the action, and they started making choices about measurements and figuring out momentum vectors.

At the end of the day, the other section of Physics 10 also finished the Constant Velocity Particle Model packet with some great discussions. At one point, it somehow came up that I knew the people who had written the question they were debating (it was a TIPERs question), and I very briefly explained about Physics Education Research.

physics 10

I basically told them that the people who wrote that question spent their time studying how people learn physics and created the question to prompt just the kind of awesome discussion that they just had. They were pretty impressed with that idea. (These kids are the most amazing kids, part 7001.)

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