Southern Methodist University – The SMU Particle Physics Group in Dedman College sponsored its annual QuarkNet Workshop for local high school physics teachers the week of August 6-10, 2012, an event which it has organized annually since 2001. This year’s workshop had 14 teachers from Dallas area public and private schools.
The main workshop theme was gravitational wave interferometry. In the lead up to this year’s workshop, QuarkNet teachers were invited in the spring to the 2012 Lightner-Sams dinner and lecture at SMU, given by Prof. Craig Hogan, Fermilab, on the subject of gravitational waves and their detection. At the summer workshop, teachers each successfully built their own simple make-and-take interferometers in the lab. There were a variety of supporting lectures from SMU faculty and the school teachers themselves.
Dale Ingram, from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), joined the workshop via videolink and spent an afternoon describing the facilities and the LIGO-elab, which contains seismic data that can be used as a school project resource. At the end of the workshop week, most of the teachers travelled to LIGO in Livingston LA, where they were conducted on a guided tour inside and outside the 16 square kilometer experiment.
The QuarkNet program is funded by the National Science Foundation. The faculty mentors are Drs. Simon Dalley and Randy Scalise (SMU Physics).