Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division hosted its seventeenth QuarkNet Physics in and Through Cosmology Workshop on June 20-30, 2023 aimed at an audience of high school students and teachers. This year’s virtual 2-week workshop featured a broad overview of cutting-edge research in particle physics and cosmology with live presentations and discussions with Berkeley Lab scientists. Participants included six local high school physics teachers and 49 students from throughout the Bay Area and around the globe, who met each weekday for 3 hours. Most sessions began with the organizers proposing a question to prompt participants’ thoughts and ideas about that day’s topic.
Each day featured a Berkeley Lab scientist guest speaker, and presentation topics this year included dark matter and the LZ Dark Matter Experiment, dark energy and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), particle physics research at the LHC’s ATLAS Experiment, machine learning for physics, pixel detectors, cosmic rays, as well as Berkeley Lab’s work on LuSee-Night, a new experiment that is being set up on the far side of the moon to probe cosmological signals from the early universe.
Concluding each session were various group activities including tutorials on physics topics such as Z mass measurement, the search for the Higgs in LHC data, and how cosmic ray detectors work. Students also formed small workgroups to interview lab scientists and delve deeper into their chosen research area, and they presented their work to the group. The workshop culminated with a round table Q&A session led by Eric Linder from UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab.
Co-organizer Laurie Kerrigan, a physics teacher at San Francisco’s Lick-Wilmerding High School and one of this workshop’s original designers, has been a co-organizer since the workshop was launched in 2006. One of her priorities has been to make sure, as she put it, that “the workshop’s format enhances engagement between scientists and participants, with active discussion sessions that help the students have an immersive experience.” Tony Spadafora, Physics Division Deputy, has also co-organized the workshop since the early 2000’s, and he noted that “the program is also rewarding for lab scientists, who have an opportunity to share their unbounded enthusiasm for their research with bright and inquisitive high school students who ask amazing questions.”
Special guest speakers this year included Nao Suzuki, Vetri Velan, Boryana Hadzhiyska, Miha Muskinja, Mariel Pettee, Maria Mironova, Kaja Rotermund, Joe Silber, and Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter. The workshop is supported in part by QuarkNet, with no cost to teachers or students.