Students from schools across the North West joined scientists from the Cockcroft Institute (CI) at Daresbury Laboratory on 15-16 March for the annual particle physics master class.
This yearly chance for schools to get experience of what happens at the laboratory is run by the STFC communications group in collaboration with the Cockcroft Institute. Building on the successes of previous years, and acknowledging the unique opportunities available in running a master class at a national laboratory, the Particle Physics Masterclass at Daresbury has more emphasis on the particle accelerators themselves.
Some new activities were run this year, showcasing the range of skills and expertise required in the design of particle accelerators including cryogenics and vacuum science. Students were also given the opportunity to experience the computer simulation tools used to design the beam delivery system for linear colliders.
Backed by other tried-and-tested exercises to estimate the injector beam energy in ALICE using only some basic physics and a few simple measurements, plus particle physics simulations, and further supported by lectures on the quark model of particle physics, grid computing and aspects of particle accelerator science, the programme of activities offered this year at Daresbury was the best yet. This was echoed in feedback received from some of the schools:
"We come to the Daresbury PPMC every year and this year was the best yet, the balance of activities is perfect this year"
Physics teacher from one of the schools taking part
Even the lunch break was used as a learning experience in the packed programme of activities. A buffet lunch was laid on in the science centre, and students mingled with CI staff, answering questions and discussing various particle accelerators around the world.
Graeme Burt, Head of Outreach at the Cockcroft Institute said "Every year our programme seems to get better and better. The staff in both CI and STFC really pulled out all the stops this year, and the comments from the students visiting suggest we really got it right this year."