A central piece of our program is the design, setup and operation of a cosmic ray detector. In 2001 all 13 teachers constructed their own detector and used it to measure the muon's lifetime. Each setup consists of several components: a conventional large block of scintillator viewed directly by a photomultiplier tube, Crockcroft Walton HV base, data acquisition board and PC readout. These components are the fruit of a 2-year development effort with FNAL staff that allowed us to produce cheap, safe, portable cosmic ray detectors for use in high schools.
We designed our three-week 2001 workshop to span five areas:
- Twenty talks on HEP physics and detectors
- Web-based group activities exploring HEP in general, as well as exercises using data from the D0 experiment
- Tours of Fermilab and UIC research facilities
- An intensive program of modern physics labs
- The centerpiece was the construction of a cosmic ray detector by each teacher and the use of those detectors to measure the lifetime of the muon, as well as to study cosmic ray distributions. Initial versions of the readout electronics were ready just in time for our workshop and teachers got valuable experience building the experiments from ground up
QuarkNet summer workshops from 2002 - 2013 were shorter (1-2 weeks). Detectors were used to perform many kinds of experiments utilizing cosmic ray muons. We continued to develop experiments to be done in the classroom, but also developed a collaboration of high schools which can share their cosmic ray data.
In 2004 our program was expanded to include high school students directly. They also performed the cosmic ray experiments during the summer workshops and carried that training back to student groups in their schools.