Bristol schoolchildren are being invited to take get up close and personal with interstellar cosmic rays in an international physics experiment.
High energy particles, which continuously bombard the earth from outer space, generate showers in the atmosphere. But the sources of these particles are still not well known.
Bristol University is already monitoring these cosmic rays through a programme called HiSparc and it now wants to roll out the project, enabling budding scientists to carry out serious research while at secondary school.
Once a cosmic ray detector is built on the roof of participating schools, pupils aged 14 to 18 can take part by collecting data which is fed into a central database and accessed by fellow researchers around the globe.
Teachers are now being invited to an information evening next Thursday to learn more about astro and particle physics, relativity, quantum mechanics and detector physics.
Dr Jaap Velthuis, Senior Lecturer in the School of Physics, said: “There are a lot of unanswered questions about cosmic rays so this is a great opportunity for school pupils to help by carrying out real experimental science. There are no text book problems and no text book answers – pupils are helping to write the book themselves.
“HiSparc is very popular in Europe, with some countries having a waiting list of schools keen to take part. The first schools joined approximately 10 years ago and the programme has been rolled out to countries such as Holland, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Vietnam and Poland.
“We now want Bristol to be part of the experiment. Schools will benefit from a wealth of teaching materials, access to an annual conference, extra lab sessions, lectures and special seminars linked to the project.”
Teachers are invited to the information event on Thursday, May 24, at 6pm in the HH Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TL. Register before May 21 by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org