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Thu Jun 6, 2013, 11:44 AM

Running on a track is boring. Run like a proton at Fermilab’s new playground!!

Or you can run like an antiproton if you prefer.

From a press release by Fermilab, the National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois:

It’s one thing for kids to try to envision particles zipping around underground when learning about the science at Fermilab. It’s another thing entirely for them to pretend to be particles charging along an accelerator path, revealing new physics as they fly by.

This week the Fermilab Education Office celebrated the completion of its new Run Like A Proton accelerator path for middle- and high-school-age visitors to the laboratory.

Located at the Lederman Science Center, the path is an aboveground, scaled-down version of the routes a particle can take through Fermilab’s accelerator complex. While running along the path, kids can act like they are the particles of the lab’s physics program zipping through underground tunnels.

“Kids have different modes of learning,” said Spencer Pasero of Fermilab’s Education Office. “They can learn about the work of the lab with our indoor exhibits, but now they can also learn about it through our new outdoor playground.”

It’s a playground with a physics lesson. Kids playing the parts of protons and antiprotons “collide” by high-fiving each other as they run along the accelerator path. Signs along the path guide them in the right direction, whether they want to follow the path a proton would take as it circles the Main Injector or assume the flight of a neutrino headed toward Minnesota

<snip>

“Students run like a proton around the accelerator path, and afterward when they go on a tour of Fermilab, the docents ask them, ‘Remember when you were running like a proton?’” said Marge Bardeen, head of the Education Office. “And they remember! What a great way to learn.”
.



Fermilab’s new Run Like A Proton accelerator path
at the Lederman Science Center is now open.
Photo: Reidar Hahn


Learning about science really is fun, for everyone!


A good comment to this announcement was posted on Quantum Diaries:

Chris says:

One difference. The protons don’t cry when they collide with an anti-proton.


7 replies, 3651 views

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Reply Running on a track is boring. Run like a proton at Fermilab’s new playground!! (Original post)
DreamGypsy Jun 2013 OP
tridim Jun 2013 #1
DreamGypsy Jun 2013 #2
itsrobert Jun 2013 #3
TheMadMonk Jun 2013 #7
defacto7 Jun 2013 #4
DreamGypsy Jun 2013 #5
defacto7 Jun 2013 #6

Response to DreamGypsy (Original post)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 11:47 AM

1. The collision point would be a good place to meet chicks.

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Response to tridim (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 12:05 PM

2. Uh, I suppose,

but I suspect the intent was more for science education than for sex education. Who knows?

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Response to DreamGypsy (Original post)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 12:09 PM

3. The merging of geeks and athletes

What could go wrong?

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Response to itsrobert (Reply #3)

Fri Jun 7, 2013, 12:43 AM

7. Um this?

 

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Response to DreamGypsy (Original post)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 10:40 PM

4. Love it! Absolutely!

I want one for our kids! Actually, I could make one of those things at our kids school. I wonder if they would let me do it? I just may find out.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 11:11 PM

5. I assume that you want to make a copy of the playground...

...making a full copy of Fermilab would require a lot of space and could be expensive.



Just kidding, of course!

There is a organization, Fermilab Friends for Science Education, that helped to fund/build the accelerator park.

From a modest, grass-roots organization at its inception in 1983, FFSE has grown to become a national leader in precollege science education. From the first Summer Institute for Science Teachers held in the very early years, programs sponsored by FFSE have increased in number, size and quality. Last year over 37,000 students, and 2,500 teachers participated in programs through the Education Office. Over the years participants have come from over 500 schools for programs like: Summer Secondary Science Institutes, Beauty and Charm, Particles and Prairies, Science Adventures and others to use the resources at the Lederman Science Center, Teacher Resource Center and the greater resources of Fermilab. Participants in FFSE programs come from an increasingly diverse demographics with onsite programs and with the use of technology. Programs continue to be developed through a partnership between FFSE and the Education Office at Fermilab.

For more information contact Susan Dahl at 630-840-3094 or [email protected]


I bet you could contact them and get some ideas about how you could work with your children's schools to improve science education. Here's a link for resources that they have for educators: http://ed.fnal.gov/home/educators.shtml. You could probably mock up the accelerator pathways on grass with marking paint for a temporary 'accelerator'.

Here's a large scale picture of the Physics Playground :



We have started a multi-year program to create our physics playground. With a grant from the Kane County Riverboat Fund and other sources, in 2012, Fermilab Friends for Science Education supported the construction of "Run like a Proton," the outdoor accelerator complex exhibit. At the same time, Fermilab's Sustainable Energy Club installed a tracking solar array , an exhibit on sustainable energy, and Roads and Grounds began preparing a switch grass plot, an exhibit on biofuels,

"Run Like a Proton" joins two other exhibits, a human sundial and a bubble chamber window in front of the Lederman Science Center. Stay tuned for additions to our playground.


Have fun! Hope your protons and antiproton offspring have fun colliding, too!

DG

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Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 11:34 PM

6. Thank you very much!

Even on a smaller scale than the playground version above, it could be a very fun addition to learning. When kids get a visual, tangible, in their minds eye view of anything, they carry it with them in a much different way than just seeing the pictures. It can be an inspiring thing, like a light-bulb moment for some, and that is what kids need, something that connects them personally to science in hopes they will keep that view of their world instead of some of the less scientific alternatives.

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