UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Posted on: 17/04/2018

UCL Particle Physics Masterclass:

On 12th February, Year 12 students from Hatch End High, Bentley Wood School for Girls and Northwood College had the opportunity to attend a UCL Particle Physics Masterclass taking place for International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It was a day for us to enjoy and learn more about particle physics and the involvement of CERN.

The day started with the introduction to Particle Physics, led by Mark Fuller and Zara Grout, who were the main organisers for this event. This was followed by 30-minute lecture by one of the PHD students, who is currently working on the ATLAS experiment at CERN. She spoke about her journey to take on physics as a degree and gave an in-depth view about how CERN works.  Additionally, she talked about the history of different types of particles along with recent discoveries, such as that of the Higgs boson in 2012, detected by both CMS and ATLAS detectors. The Large Hadron Collider is a powerful particle accelerator, 27km in circumference and is used to test theories of particle physics such as supersymmetry and dimensional physics.

We were given different exercises to follow using an event display program called Minerva, that provided us

with tracking tools to decipher and analysis collision tracks. One of our exercises included a task to familiarise ourselves with different types of particles that are produced (such as a moun, muon-neutrino, jet and electrons) during a collision and realise the different pathways that they follow under a strong magnetic field. Later, we used this information to identify the various particles produced on practice exemplars before analysing live LHC data, all during this time we were guided by female physicists.

The data was then collated from the different groups participating in masterclasses around Europe. The data was summarised, our results were discussed and compared to the results gathered at CERN, and a value, for how far we were off the actual results obtained at CERN, was produced. This led on to the final activity at the end of the masterclass.

During the final session of the day, we were given the opportunity to hold a video conference with CERN, allowing us to communicate with Stefanie Morgenstern and Rosa Simoniello who acted as moderators and are physicists working on the ATLAS experiment. We were also sharing a live webcast with other schools based in Paris, Barcelona, Prague and Rome, who were simultaneously holding Particle Physics masterclasses on the day. A discussion ensued on what we thought of the results and how we felt the day went. A final opportunity was given to us to ask any relevant questions of the CERN women physicists and learn about the careers of these role models.

Written by

Narcisa Vacarita (6SEV), Hemlata Regami (6EXT/BW) and Tabassum Bhanji (6EXT/BW)

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