PHYSICS TEAM

Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Lana Hiskey

Springville High School has a new kind of team on the field: a par­ti­cle physics team. Called the 5 Sigma Project, the team was formed to sub­mit an ex­per­i­ment to CERN, the Euro­pean Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Nu­clear Re­search in Geneva, Switzer­land. It is be­lieved to be the first such high school team in Utah.

Last spring, Springville High School sopho­more Jonah Allen found out that high school stu­dents could sub­mit ex­per­i­ments to CERN for con­sid­er­a­tion. Be­fore the end of the school year, he be­gan to in­vite other stu­dents from his science classes to par­tic­i­pate. Soon he had a team of eight stu­dents meet­ing ev­ery Thurs­day night.

They have now been meet­ing for nine months. “Our en­thu­si­asm was good, but our skill was low. When it comes to par­ti­cle physics, events are prob­a­bilis­tic and highly math­e­mat­i­cal. You can’t fake it. We needed some se­ri­ous men­tor­ing,” Allen said.

The team spent months email­ing and call­ing physics de­part­ments at Utah uni­ver­si­ties look­ing for some­one who could help them, but came up empty-handed.

Fi­nally, in Oc­to­ber, a fam­ily friend men­tioned to Allen that he knew a physi­cist at Utah Val­ley Univer­sity who might be will­ing to help. That physi­cist was Pro­fes­sor Steven Wasser­bach. “When I saw his pro­file I couldn’t be­lieve it. He has done a lot of work at CERN and pub­lished a lot of pa­pers. He was per­fect for what we were try­ing to do. Then I couldn’t be­lieve that he agreed to help us,” said Allen. CERN started the Beam­line for Schools com­pe­ti­tion in 2014 to cel­e­brate the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 60th an­niver­sary. The suc­cess of the 2014 com­pe­ti­tion al­lowed it to be con­tin­ued in 2015. The 2016 com­pe­ti­tion launched on Nov. 17, 2015, and project sub­mis­sions were due March 31.

Last year, about 100 teams from around the world sub­mit­ted ex­per­i­ments. Teams who have their ex­per­i­ment se­lected in June are flown to CERN in Septem­ber to see their ex­per­i­ment con­ducted at the world’s lead­ing fa­cil­ity for par­ti­cle physics re­search.

Photo by Danny Salazar

The Springville High School 5 Sigma Project team in­cludes, from left: Jonah Allen, Jared Coles, Hay­den Le­baron, Rus­sel An­der­son, Andrew Hale and Adam Davies. Not pic­tured: Danny Salazar and Brian Udall.

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