News Release | For Immediate Release | March 17, 2011
(Vancouver, BC) -- On Friday March 18, about 40 high school students from Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey,
and Richmond will get their hands on real data from the world's largest subatomic physics experiment to
search for exotic particles last seen naturally microseconds after the big bang. Along with over 8,000 other
students from 23 countries invited to 130 institutions worldwide, these students are taking part in the
Particle Physics Masterclass, a global outreach event where students analyze real data from the Large Hadron
Collider (at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland) under the watchful eye of their teachers and
university research scientists. At day's end, the students will discuss their results through videoconference
with other Masterclass students from China, Japan, and the United States. The event is sponsored by
TRIUMF, Simon Fraser University (SFU), and the University of British Columbia (UBC), and organized
by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory “Quarket” initiative in the USA.
The Particle Physics Masterclass began in Europe in 2005, and emulates art masterclasses where students
work on a technique under the guidance of a professional. In this case students learn the art of data analysis
guided by professional research scientists and tutored by high school teachers. It has spread to around the
world through various regional masterclasses throughout March.
This year is the first time that Canada will participate in the Masterclass. It is a full-day event taking place at
SFU, led by Professor Dugan O’Neil, and at UBC, led by Professor Colin Gay. They will be assisted at SFU
by Vancouver teacher Mike Hengeveld and Surrey teacher Susan Hunter-Jivung, and at UBC by Richmond
teacher Philip Freeman. Professor O'Neil explains, "The goal of this Masterclass is to provide the students
with a reasonable understanding of what particle physicists do everyday and how particle physicists gather
the results by leading the students to act in a way that particle physicists would act." O'Neil also hopes that
the students leave the event with an appreciation of how the work is done and the excitement and
enthusiasm of particle physics.
The students are led though an intensive full day of lectures, peer and teacher instruction, scientist
mentoring, lunch with scientists, and analysis of real data from the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. The
highlight comes at the end of the day, when an analysis review videoconference is scheduled with other
Masterclass students in the USA, Japan, and China. Closely emulating videoconferences the research
scientists attend regularly, the videoconference has proven to be a big hit with students over the years.
TRIUMF Outreach Coordinator Dr. Marcello Pavan is very pleased that the Particle Physics Masterclass
has finally taken root in Canada. "Now that ATLAS is taking real data, it seems the time was right for the
Masterclass to come together here. We see this year’s event as the ‘first annual’ class, as well as a pilot for
possible inter-Canadian Masterclasses with other universities across the country." Pavan is grateful for the
ATLAS-Canada collaboration scientists at SFU, UBC, and TRIUMF who are giving freely of their time to
inspire the students, and for the school teachers for their invaluable efforts making the Masterclass a success.
TRIUMF is Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Located on the south campus of the
University of British Columbia, TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the following
Canadian universities, via a contribution through the National Research Council Canada: University of Alberta,
University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of
Manitoba, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, Queen’s University, University of Regina, Saint Mary’s
University, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, York University.
Dr. Marcello M. Pavan
Particle Physics Masterclass http://www.physicsmasterclasses.org/
2011 Quarknet Masterclass http://quarknet.us/library/index.php/Masterclass_Library
LHC at CERN http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/LHC/LHC-en.html
ATLAS Experiment at LHC http://atlas.ch
ATLAS-Canada Collaboration http://www.atlas-canada.ca
TRIUMF Outreach http://www.triumf.ca/outreach
Simon Fraser University Physics Department http://www.physics.sfu.ca
University of British Columbia Physics and Astronomy http://www.physics.ubc.ca