Black Hills State University – For the first year of BHSU’s involvement in the national QuarkNet program, two lead teachers participated in DUSEL-related activities at BHSU (Spearfish, SD) and Sanford Lab at Homestake (Lead, SD, site of the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Lab (DUSEL)). Brian Lowery from Aberdeen represented the eastern (“East River”) section of South Dakota, while Chad Ronish from nearby Hill City represented the “West River” section of South Dakota.
Together with scientists from BHSU and Sanford Lab and students from BHSU, SDSM&T and UTK, Lowery and Ronish measured radon levels and ambient magnetic fields at various locations above-ground and underground. The radon measurements, using RAD7 environmental radon detectors, are part of an NSF-funded project to characterize sources of background radiation at Homestake, in preparation for DUSEL experiments with ultra-sensitive neutrino and dark matter detectors with very stringent background requirements. The magnetic field measurements were conducted while riding slowly up and down in the personnel cage in the Yates Shaft and the Ross Shaft at Homestake. An HMR2300 digital magnetometer was used to characterize the magnetic field in three dimensions. The magnetic field was also measured on surface for comparison. The magnetic field measurements within the shafts are of interest to the Vertical Facility project which hopes to study ultra-cold neutron oscillation as neutrons are “dropped” down a long vertical column or pathway. Since it would be necessary to cancel any magnetic field within the column, the magnetic field must be very well understood. It was valuable to compare data collected from the Ross Shaft (with iron structural sets) and the Yates Shaft (with predominantly wooden trusses).
During their 8-week summer internship appointment, Lowery and Ronish attended a series of seminars delivered via teleconference to undergraduate students across South Dakota participating in the CUBED (Center for Ultra-low Background Experiments at DUSEL) Summer Research Program. Lectures on nuclear and particle astrophysics including radiation safety, beta decay, neutrino physics, the Solar Neutrino Problem, and dark matter were given by Drs. Kara Keeter (BHSU), Dongming Mei (USD), Robert McTaggart (SDSU) and others. For the week of July 6-10, they also attended lectures and activities associated with the Davis-Bahcall Scholars Program at Sanford Lab.
On July 15, they attended a training session at the Journey Museum in Rapid City for a planetarium format called Uniview for the purpose of adding earth science and space science programming to a growing array of educational and entertainment opportunities. Joel Halvorson, Program Director at the Minnesota Planetarium Society provided this training session. If possible, field trips to the Journey Museum will be planned for high school students during the academic year. Brian Lowery’s astronomy class may be able to combine such a trip with a tour of Homestake.
When they weren’t participating in activities at Sanford Lab or attending lectures and seminars, Ronish and Lowery were at BHSU developing lesson plans and instructional materials for their classes that involved the activities at Sanford Lab. They plan to incorporate the radon measurements in discussions about the nuclear physics of radiation, the health concerns of radon, and the geography and geology of variations in radon levels. They will use the magnetic field measurements to discuss electricity and magnetism, the physics behind the magnetometer, and the Earth’s magnetic field. They have developed an online interactive “map” of Homestake displaying the results of these measurements. They will also use the data to help students understand the process of scientific measurements and the statistics of data analysis. Some of the materials developed are available online at http://quarknetbhsu.wikispaces.com/. The lectures and seminars are available on BHSU’s Desire2Learn website.
During the last two weeks of the eight-week program, Ronish and Lowery met with Julie Dahl and Ben Sayler of BHSU’s Center for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education (CAMSE) and Peggy Norris (CAMSE/Sanford Lab Education and Outreach Center) to discuss the implementation of various teaching and learning tools. An online discussion forum was set up so that all those involved with the BHSU QuarkNet Center can stay in touch throughout the academic year.
Finally, we started planning for next summer’s three-week Summer Institute, for Year Two of the BHSU QuarkNet Center program. Seminars similar to the CUBED and Davis-Bahcall lectures will be given in the mornings, followed by workshops in the afternoons at BHSU and Sanford Lab. In addition to presenting the curricular materials they have developed and the results of their implementation, the lead teachers will also assist in teaching a workshop for building cosmic ray detectors. While most programs seek to deploy cosmic ray detectors across a wide area on Earth’s surface, these cosmic ray detectors will also be deployed underground at various depths at Homestake. The Summer Institute will conclude with round-table discussions involving the teachers, BHSU and Sanford Lab scientists and CAMSE personnel on how best to continue our efforts in a way that will serve the needs of the high schools, maintaining open lines of communication within the BHSU QuarkNet participants, fostering connections between researchers and high schools, and supporting science-related activities in the schools.
Ten new teachers will be invited to participate in next year’s Summer Institute, presented by Lowery and Ronish along with the mentors at BHSU and Sanford Lab. We plan to recruit teachers across the state of South Dakota, seeking a diverse representation from both East River and West River and paying particular attention to teachers from Native American schools such as those on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations.
Both the Pine Ridge Reservation (Oglala Sioux tribe) and the Rosebud Reservation (Sicangu Lakota, the Upper Brulé Sioux, and the Rosebud Sioux tribe) are within driving distance of BHSU (about 3 hours). The Rosebud Reservation is served by the St. Francis Indian School in St. Francis, SD and the Todd County High School in Mission, SD. High schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation include Pine Ridge School in Pine Ridge, SD; Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, SD; and Little Wound School in Kyle, SD. Pine Ridge is the poorest reservation in the U.S., with unemployment rates around 80%. The population has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere, and adolescent suicide is four times the national average. While the number of high school graduates is decreasing in SD, the population of American Indian youth is growing by over 10% a year* . By reaching high school teachers and involving them in the research opportunities afforded by Sanford Lab, this program will encourage and provide opportunities for rural students and under-represented Native American populations.
Seminars similar to the CUBED and Davis-Bahcall lectures will be given in the mornings, followed by workshops in the afternoons at BHSU and Sanford Lab. In addition to presenting the curricular materials they have developed and the results of their implementation, the lead teachers will also assist in teaching a workshop for building cosmic ray detectors. While most programs seek to deploy cosmic ray detectors across a wide area on Earth’s surface, these cosmic ray detectors will also be deployed underground at various depths at Homestake. The summer institute will conclude with round-table discussions involving the teachers, BHSU and Sanford Lab scientists and CAMSE personnel on future plans.
Mentors: Kara Keeter and Dan Durben (BHSU); Jaret Heise (Sanford Lab)
*US Census Bureau, 2006 fact sheet, retrieved 10/9/2008.