Fighting for Michiana

08.30.13 Comments Off

posted by: Tom Loughran

For 15 years, Dale Wiand has been the lead teacher at the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center, leading weekly meetings of physics teachers and hosting full-time summer research opportunities for some 50 teachers and over 200 high school students. All the while, Dale (teaching at Adams) and his wife Lauren (at Riley) were raising one of those 200, a pretty good son. Andrew Wiand soared through Riley, then Notre Dame, and is now serving as Senior Fellow at enFocus. And he’s fighting for South Bend.

Tune in at half-time during tomorrow’s ND-Temple game for some highlights of this story on the NBC-Notre Dame “What would you fight for?” series. Be inspired. Then let’s roll up our sleeves and join the fight for South Bend, and for all of Michiana.

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STEM careers in Michiana: an MSTCi expo

08.19.13 Comments Off

posted by: Tom Loughran

Mark your calendars for September 14…then come to this important event sponsored by the Michiana Science and Technology Center (MSTCi) at Union Station.
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Upward Bound

07.25.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

It may be July but classes and camps continue to keep Notre Dame fairly busy even with most of the students on summer break.  One such camp/class going on right now is the TRiO Upward Bound camp for high school students who would be the first generation in their family to go to college.  TRiO is a talent search agency and the Upward Bound program was brought to Notre Dame by Father Hesburgh.  Check out the video below and hear the stories of people involved with TRiO. (The page may need to be refreshed to view the video.)

The students are put through college type classes to prepare them for what may lie ahead at any college they decide to attend.  One such class that I visited with the students dealt with flight planning and the importance of following a flight plan.  These students are trying to learn a semester long aviation class in about twelve days requiring that they stay on point.

Later on, the students went out to the North gate of Notre Dame Stadium for a more hands-on demonstration.  The North gate happens to be exactly 1000 feet away from the Hesburgh Library.  The students stood at the North gate and looked up to the top of the library with an angle measuring device.  Using the angle, 1000 feet away, and simple geometry, the height of the library can be found.

In the future these students will be visiting the WNDU Weather Center as well as South Bend Airport Air Traffic Control to learn more about aviation.

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Sensing The Cosmos together: 2013

07.24.13 1 Comment

posted by: Tom Loughran

Comet making at STC 2013
This is a shout out to a great group of kids (of all ages) who explored the cosmos together for two weeks in July. 55 middle school students, two physics graduate students, one high school student, a veteran middle school teacher and myself had a great time. I could tell you a lot about it, but navigating some 1400 images taken during the event will be a lot more fun than reading about it. (This is a busy page, and the embedded widgets sometimes won’t load on the first attempt: if they don’t, just refresh the page.) Oh…and please don’t miss the fun you can have with the Cooliris widget: play with the buttons, and build your own here.)

For those who like a more ordered presentation, below is a slide show organizing some images around activity headings. The STC schedule has links to many of these activities. Enjoy.

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Follow the Map!

07.24.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

Along with creating a LinkedIn group, the NDQC has made another effort to try and somewhat reconnect with the past. When a list is presented to you, usually the easiest way to view it would be in a visual way.  So why not make a visualization for the list of past and present QuarkNet participants?  I did that in the form of a map.

Using a program called MapAList, I took the locations of schools that the students attended at the time and I created a map accurately placing the majority of the locations of students when they were at QuarkNet.  I also did this with teachers and where they taught.  As with any kind of virtual map there is room for error.  The computer may not have been able to find the correct locations of the schools.  It also could have found a school somewhere else with the same name or similar name and mapped someone there.

Below is the interactive map with every participant both student and teacher that has participated in QuarkNet in the past.  Click on each point to find out more about each person including a link to the school website.

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International Physics

07.24.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

Last week, the NDQC went international.  High school students from China and Brazil came to Notre Dame for an educational camp that included a two day workshop at QuarkNet.

The CMS Data group was given the opportunity to give a two and a half hour seminar on the CMS detector at the LHC to these students.  The students first were guided through a short briefing on what the CMS detector was and the sheer basics of particle physics led by teachers working at QuarkNet.

The international students were then split up into two person groups and began finding answers to a few questions that could be found on the Internet.  The CMS Data students were helpful in guiding this process and helping out wherever needed.  The groups were brought together then and they all talked about each question and the correct answers.

The seminar continued with analysis of real data from the CMS detector again led by the CMS Data team.  At the same time that all of this was going on, another half of the international students was in an entirely different part of QuarkNet looking through a telescope at the Sun and learning about it.

Below are pictures of the students at work on the computers…

Students on ComputersStudents on Computers 2

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Look to the Skies

07.23.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

There is no doubt that some truly unbelievable things exist beyond our universe.  Space, however, is so vast that we have experienced only a fraction of everything that exists out there.  Everyday astronomers are trying to learn more and more about what exists beyond Earth.

The NDQC Astro group is also trying to learn more about the mysteries of space.  The students and teachers are using the amenities of the Jordan Hall of Science Observatory to do that.  Focusing primarily on observing specific stars, the students are able to learn things like how to calibrate a research-grade telescope to make it do what is needed.  Students also learn a lot about individual stars such as Arcturus or Vega.

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I was given the privilege to go with them on one of their observations last week and in a short couple of hours I learned a lot about the night sky that I did not know before.

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Linking Back

07.23.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

Looking toward the future of our lives, it looks clear that technology will be a key part.  Seemingly at the heart of all technology comes social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  The importance of social networking continues to grow every day and the NDQC knows that.

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a small project attempting to try and reconnect with past QuarkNet participants to see where they are now.  Currently, I am doing that by means of LinkedIn.  Dubbed the “Professional Networking Site” by many, LinkedIn can do a number of things for the businessman.  For my purposes at QuarkNet, however, the use of the group feature worked best.

I wanted to create a group for the NDQC where past and present participants could post anything of interest that they might be doing in their professional life or student life.  I personally connected with as many past QuarkNet participants I could find and then added them to my group.  Connecting with the past is important because QuarkNet would like to be able to see how the past students are doing after their experiences here. A small shot of the home page of the group is below.

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So far, the project has been a success as the group has grown in size and people have already contacted me telling their own stories of QuarkNet.  Hopefully the group will continue to grow and it can become a fully functional social network!

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Sun Gazing

07.17.13 Comments Off

posted by: Thomas Yemc

The educational camp “Sensing the Cosmos” has been going on the past few days on campus.  Elementary school students from across the South Bend area have come to Notre Dame to learn what they can about the universe beyond Earth.

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As would be expected, participating in a program like this involves the use of telescopes.  A lot of telescopes.  Many different kinds of telescopes.  Telescopes that the students working at the NDQC are very familiar with.  Throughout the week, the NDQC Astro group has been participating in a counselor’s role to these children.

Yesterday, for example, the NDQC students led the elementary school students through the process of viewing the Sun safely and by use of three different telescopes.  One type of telescope, for example, was a solar filter.  In a very basic sense, the solar filter removes all of the dangerous solar rays and enables the Sun to be looked straight at.  It kind of looks like a bowl with a mirror across the surface and is shown in the picture below.  Small sun spots and solar flares can also be seen with this device.  The NDQC students tried yesterday, through use of the solar filter and other telescopes, to instill a basic understanding of the components of the telescope into these students.

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Spreading the Physics!

07.11.13 Comments Off

posted by: admin

Next week, high school students from China and Brazil will descend on NDQC aiming to learn a bit about particle physics.  The students will learn what exactly goes on in the CMS detector during a collision and how to analyze the data plots that the collisions produce.

Teachers and students who have already spent time analyzing some of these data plots will be helping to lead the seminar.  They will attempt to walk the international students through it all the way that they learned it.  For example, one skill that will be learned is how to identify particles from their invariant masses on a histogram like the one in this blog.  They will find things such as the Z boson or the j/psi meson.  The graph below from CMS on the Science 2.0 website shows evidence of a j/psi particle at around 3.1 GeV which is the actual weight value of a j/psi.

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It is sure to be a great learning experience for these high school students and should help advance their knowledge in particle physics.

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