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High school students chasing after particles

The International Masterclass provides high school students insight into CERN research



On March 13 the 5th International Masterclass took place at GSI
Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung. 24 senior class students were called
upon to do research like a particle physicist and to analyse data which were
recorded in an experiment carried out at the world's highest energy
particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva.

The interested students were asked to analyse and to interpret data of the
ALICE experiment. Under the professional supervision of scientists they
analysed independently recent data from ALICE which had been recorded in
proton-proton-collisions and in collisions of lead nuclei. During
lead-lead collisions a phase of matter arises that presumably filled the
universe microseconds after the Big Bang: the so called quark-gluon plasma.
This plasma is instable and transform into ordinary matter within fractions
of a second. During this process particles are released which give information
on the conditions in the quark-gluon plasma.

The basic idea of the programme is that the students themselves work to a large
extent like a scientist. This also includes the video conference at the end of
the day. In an online conference with groups of students of universities in
Frankfurt, Muenster and Prague and at CERN the students present and discuss
their measured results – just like the researchers do within their
international collaborations. Thus, the students get an authentic idea of
researchers’ day to day work in particle physics.

210 universities and research institutions in 42 countries take part in the
International Masterclasses. A new participant this year is Morocco. The
worldwide participation reflects the international cooperation typical for
particle and nuclear physics. All events are in cooperation with „Netzwerk
Teilchenwelt“ the German network imparting particle physics knowledge to
high school students and teachers. The project lead of the International
Masterclasses is with the TU Dresden, organizer is IPPOG, the International
Particle Physics Outreach Group, an independent committee of representatives
of countries doing research at CERN and at DESY. The aim of this group is the
distribution of knowledge on particle physics to a broader public.

Masterclass students
Masterclass students
Copyrigth: G. Otto, GSI