Monday, June 17, 2024

Louisiana Students Explore Particle Physics at La. Tech

by BPT Staff
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Louisiana Tech University hosted over 75 high school students from around Louisiana at the 2024 International Particle Physics Master Class.

The class takes place in more than 60 countries at 225 universities and research centers and provides students with the chance to measure actual particle experiment data. In Louisiana Tech’s 2024 class (the only one in the state), students from Ruston High, Cedar Creek High, West Monroe High, New Iberia High, and Westgate High joined Tech’s physics and education faculty and students to learn about Louisiana Tech Physics.

Dr. Lee Sawyer (director and professor of chemistry and physics), Dr. Lindsey Keith-Vincent (associate dean for College of Education research, outreach, and innovation), Dianne Madden (associate director of the Science and Technology Education Center), Dr. Markus Wobisch (associate professor of physics), Dr. John Shaw (lecturer of physics), and Susan Wetzel (physics master teacher for the Quarknet consortium) led the students in hands-on activities and a video conference with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

During the call with CERN, the students learned about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world, and about Louisiana Tech’s affiliation with the center. Throughout the class, the high school students also interacted with Louisiana Tech Physics students, who helped guide them as they worked on radiation and cosmic ray detectors in the physics labs located in the Integrated Engineering and Science Building. Then, they used software to analyze events from the ATLAS experiment (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) at the LHC to measure the mass of the Z boson – a particle that carries the weak nuclear force.

Sawyer and a handful of Physics students and professors began Louisiana Tech’s Physics Master Class in 2019 for local high schools, and it has grown to its present-day reach.

To learn more about the program, visit https://physicsmasterclasses.org/. To learn how you can register a class to join Louisiana Tech’s 2025 International Particle Physics Master Class, please contact Dr. Lee Sawyer.

This article was written by communications student Daniel Young.

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