QuarkNet 2021 Summer Workshop for Teachers

As more and more schools and universities tried to return mid-2021 to in-person classes, the Rice/UH #QuarkNet center saw opportunities to return to an in-person workshop for high school teachers. With the support of the QuarkNet leadership and Rice's Physics & Astronomy department the very first "post" pandemic on-campus QuarkNet workshop took place in June 2021. 

Over the span of a full week from June 14 - 18, we were able to invite eleven teachers from various campus across Greater Houston. We are especially trilled to see no less than three staff members from QuarkNet travel to Houston for an exciting range of mini-workshops. Special thanks go out to the center's lead teacher Mary Yarbray! In a continuation of the 2019 CMS E-Lab workshop, Shane Wood (QuarkNet National Staff) introduced the teachers to CMS Data Workshop. Our ultimate goal is to expand our center's attendance of future MasterClasses. We asked those teachers who host one of QuarkNet's Cosmic Ray Detectors (CRD) to bring them to our campus while QuarkNet Cosmic Fellow Nate Untermann brought his wonderful expertise back to our campus. Under his guidance several projects were discussed that teachers could bring back to their schools. One of the Rice undergraduate seniors, Jaanita Mehrani, who works with professor Geurts (QuarkNet mentor and PI of the Rice/UH center)  shared her expertise and showed a neat demonstrator based on MIT's CosmicRayWatch project.

Mixed in between the muons studied in the CMS mini workshop and the muons detected with QuarkNet's own CRD's, we were especially thrilled to see a couple of afternoons dedicated to QuarkNet's STEP UP program. In this interesting mini-workshop, based on an APS program, Michael Wadness (QuarkNet's STEPUP Lead) together with Shane Wood discussed efforts to engage young women in physics, how to recognize and change deep-seated cultural views about physicists, and how teachers could help inspire young women to pursue physics in college.


In addition to the mini-workshops, faculty and scientists from both UH and Rice gave hour-long lectures on a range of topics that included application of nuclear and particle physics through MediPix (prof. Pinksy), Medical Physics (dr. Wang), the latest news from CMS (prof. Ecklund), what we learned hot nuclear matter (prof. Geurts), and what know -and don't know- about Dark Matter (prof. Long).

In all, this first national in-person high school teacher workshop was a welcome return of staple QuarkNet program and came with a jam-packed program full of exciting physics and ideas. We are very grateful to the QuarkNet leadership for their support - specifically to Shane, Nate, and Mike. We thank the Rice Physics & Astronomy dept. for its in-kind contributions, not in the least providing lunch to all that attended. QuarkNet activities in our center are back again and we look forward to inviting high school students for MasterClasses soon!

[from the 2021 Annual Report]