Tammi Freehling | December 20, 2016
The Fourth Biennial of the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications (ASP) was held in Kigali, Rwanda, from August 1 to 19, 2016. As part of the program, the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, in which QuarkNet participates, invited their partners to present workshops for high school physics teachers. QuarkNet was one of the main groups that took up the call and organized the effort.
Notre Dame Physicist Tom McCauley and QuarkNet National Staff Teacher Ken Cecire traveled to Africa, specifically Kigali, Rwanda; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; to hold day-and-a-half workshops for high school physics teachers. In Kigali, approximately 20 high school physics teachers had the opportunity to work with Cecire, McCauley, plus other international physicists, to learn how to analyze particle physics data. The high school teachers also developed plans for taking their students’ physics knowledge to the next level, using activities and ideas gleaned from the workshop. In addition, McCauley, Cecire, and their collaborators held particle physics workshops for students in high schools in Rwanda and Ethiopia and installed a cosmic ray detector in Ethiopia.
Notably, compared to their counterparts in the United States, fewer students in Africa have heard of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, where the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider records and analyses data from high-energy particle collisions to study fundamental physics. Notre Dame is part of the CMS collaboration and QuarkNet uses data from CMS as part of its activities, including the ones in Africa.
“We know that there is a great deal of scientific potential in Africa. The teachers and students have a talent for science and care about science, particularly physics,” said Cecire, a former high school physics teacher who works full-time on the QuarkNet national program and its international collaborations. “We can engender tremendous interest in physics in Africa working with high school teachers and students there.”