LUCID UK - This project aims to link the cosmic ray communities across the UK and give UK schools access to cosmic ray data from space and on Earth.

Lead Research Organisation: Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys
Department Name: Science Department

Abstract

LUCID UK aims to inspire the next generation of physicists and engineers by giving school students opportunities to work alongside research scientists analysing cosmic ray data in a national collaboration using detectors on Earth and in Space. LUCID UK will take data from school based research projects and make it available to all schools. LUCID in space, CERN@school kits across the UK and other cosmic ray detector projects will all combine to give students the chance to analyse new data and give them a real experience of cutting edge science. We have run a CERN@school pilot last year and we have noted an increase in uptake in physics at the pilot schools. It has also been invigorating for physics teachers who have been inspired by being part of a research team. By extending this nationally and involving all the national players we can transform the experience students have of physics. LUCID UK has three key strands: 1. LUCID (Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector) is a student designed cosmic ray detector which uses Timepix chips from CERN. It will fly on Techdemosat in 2012 and our aim has always been to involve schools across the country in analysing the data taken. We want to have in place an infrastructure so that all schools who sign up to the project can be part of a huge collaboration analysing data. For this network of schools, over a hundred have already expressed interest, we are developing a method of uploading the data to the Grid and producing analysis packages for the students to use. We will develop a website for the LUCID project which will allow students to access cosmic ray data and perform operations. This will be in connection with putting the data on GridPP and developing analysis packages for pattern recognition, particle identification and correlations between Earth and Space and across cosmic ray showers. We will bring together the cosmic ray community and will develop a common protocol for storing data so that all efforts of schools across the UK can be brought together into a national research project. We will be using the facilities of GridPP thanks to the support of Professor Steve Lloyd at Queen Mary, University of London. LUCID UK is fully supported by GridPP at Management Board level, a CERN@school VO has already been established. 2. The LUCID UK collaboration network will use the CERN@school network of students taking cosmic ray data using the CERN@school kits. At the moment we have eleven schools using kits round Kent. We have support from SEPnet to have a further six chips round the South East and we will develop a loan scheme so that with we can target around sixty schools a year. The Ogden Trust will support another six chips across the UK and we hope to expand this. The invaluable feedback from the teacher support group from the CERN@school pilot will continue to shape the development of LUCID UK. 3. We want to develop a larger range of applications for students using the CERN@school kit. Thanks to an STFC small grant we are almost finished with our GCSE package for schools so that the excitement of having a piece of CERN in school can be introduced in radiation work which is covered in all GCSE science courses. There has been a huge uptake in physics at our school as a result of this project with 180 taking A level physics and between 0.5 and 1% of the students who take physics at UK Universities coming from the school. Almost 2% of the girls who went to study physics last year came from us. With LUCID flying in space next year the time is right to widen the excitement of this proven project to students across the UK. ESA is also considering further flights for LUCID 2 and 3 and the infrastructure will be in place to exploit potential data from the Moon and from Mars. A UK collaboration will bring the strengths of the community together and make us a world leader in involving and inspiring students through cosmic ray research and data analysis.

Publications

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Whyntie T (2015) CERN@school: demonstrating physics with the Timepix detector in Contemporary Physics