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PHYSICS 290M: QuarkNet - Service Learning Outreach for Physics and Engineering Majors


Summer, Fall, Spring. 1-3 credits




No text


Jones, M.


I. Overview

Purdue has been involved in the QuarkNet program for several years and has recently acquired cosmic ray detector hardware from Fermilab that regional high school teachers helped assemble and operate during the summer of 2006. One goal of the QuarkNet program is to have several of these detectors, or ones that are similar, located in high schools across the country. While the set-up and operation of this detector and the analysis of the data collected is well within the capabilities of most high school physics teachers, learning how to do this effectively requires an investment of time. We have observed that although the teachers have the desire to host this type of equipment at their schools, it is difficult for them to easily develop the level of expertise needed to effectively integrate it into their classroom activities. To address this shortcoming in the QuarkNet outreach program we are using the Physics 290M course to train undergraduates in the set up and use of this equipment and in the development of demonstrations and activities based on the goals of the QuarkNet program that fit in with the Indiana high school physics curriculum. The intent is that these students can provide the expertise needed to work with the high school teachers in order to maximize the benefits provided by the QuarkNet outreach program while minimizing the additional time and effort required on the part of the high school physics teachers.

II. Use of the QuarkNet Cosmic Ray Detector

Physics majors enrolled in Physics 290M will become familiar with the setup and operation of the QuarkNet cosmic ray detector and will learn to interpret the data it generates. They will become very familiar with a set of experiments that we anticipate to be carried out by high school students using this cosmic ray detector and will be able to guide teachers and students through these experiments if required.

III. Summary

The Physics 290M course is well suited to provide the student resources needed to significantly enhance the benefits that high schools receive from their participation in the Purdue QuarkNet program. The QuarkNet program provides a way to introduce fundamental high energy physics and astro-particle physics research to high school students across Indiana. It is our hope that this interaction will have a positive impact on future participation in QuarkNet by other schools.

IV. What is Expected of Physics 290M Students

Students enrolled in Physics 290M: Service Learning Outreach need to fully understand the meaning of service learning. While providing authentic service to our “customer,” physics undergraduate students are also authentically learning from their experience. Learning may include leadership, communication with the public, responsibility, and more, in addition to physics content. To this end, students are expected to attend class regularly, meet deadlines on projects, and maintain a learning journal.

V. What are the Time Commitments for Physics 290M?

Students may enroll for variable credit, for 1-3 credits. Each credit holds a time commitment of 32 hours, which includes both time in class and time spent outside of class learning to use the detector and preparing lessons to share with the schools.

Last Updated: May 9, 2023 8:26 AM

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