Physics students attend particle seminar

More stories from Kaeden Thurber



Juniors Kaitlyn Serrano and Lauren Mitchell analyze nuclear particle data on a computer during the particle seminar at Kansas State University.

For the first time, four students and physics teacher Adrianne Wedel traveled to K-State on April 7 to study particle physics alongside professors and graduate students. The students participated in laboratories using real data and identified nuclear particles. The day ended with the students participating in a Skype call with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The students participated in a seminar class to learn helpful background information on nuclear particle physics. The data that students analyzed was from CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) a center for scientific research.

“We analyzed real data from CERN,” junior Lauren Mitchell said. “Each group was in charge of one hundred data pieces and then we complied the data in a graph. On that day, there was also a master class in Rio De Janeiro, so we came together and Skyped with the class from Rio and physicists from Fermi. During the Skype, we analyzed the graph and compared our data to what the Rio students found.”

Students were given the opportunity to get real life experience in doing physics research. This seminar gave students access to high tech equipment, which they used to conduct this research.

“It gives students just an opportunity to do actual physics research. It’s not something that we have equipment to do particle physics research here,” Wedel said.

The students worked alongside Dr. Maravin to conduct these labs. The labs give the students a taste of how professional labs are conducted and how much perseverance is required.

“Science is tedious, yes the labs are fun and there’s different things that are fun about it but there’s also a lot of labor that goes into analyzing that data,” Wedel said.

Students learned what the more intricate workings of a professional lab and how messy and confusing they can be. There is no clear answer, even the professors second guessed themselves.

“I have a lot left to learn. I feel that way as even a teacher I’m always in awe of how little I know when I go to things like this,” Wedel said.

The students who attended the nuclear particle physics day felt it was a valuable learning experience.

“I think it benefited us. I think it opened all of our eyes to how much more there is to learn. The KSU graduate students there knew so much and you could tell that they have done so much more work on this topic than anyone would think,” Mitchell said.