When confronted with particle physics initial thoughts are of large, complicated and expensive machines. The Particle Physics and Python Programming (P4) project aims to use inexpensive materials, cheap technology, and some basic computer coding to let students take part in a particle physics investigation in their classroom.
Cloud chambers give us glimpses of the otherwise invisible particles surrounding us and are built from few materials, at relatively low cost. Expensive electronics in modern particle detectors automatically digitise the signatures left behind charged particles and feed them directly to a computer. The aim of this project is to combine the cloud chamber with some cheap and readily available technology, a little code to digitise cloud chamber tracks, and a platform for students to analyse them.
Students aged 12-14 will follow a complete chain of real world research from devising of the project goals, realising hardware and software design, through to acquiring and analysing data. The final outcome of this project will be educational packs, software, and workshops that can be rolled out to other schools across the country; written and designed by students for students.
The Particle Physics and Python Programming project is initially funded by a Royal Society partnership grant.