CAP Teaching Excellence Award winner visits SNOLAB

November 21, 2022 — People Stories

SNOLAB recently had the privilege of welcoming Joseph (Joe) Muise, the 2020  Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP, to our facilities. Joe is a teacher at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, British Columbia, who has not only increased the number of students in his physics classes but the diversity in his classes as well. As part of his award, Joe made the trip to Sudbury for an in-depth, and at a depth of 6800 feet, look at the science taking place at SNOLAB.  

“I hope to convey this experience to my current, future and former students to inspire them to want to come and contribute to the science going on at SNOLAB”

Joe Muise

On his first day, Joe got acquainted with the SNOLAB surface facilities. This included meeting several members of our staff, from research scientists to cleaners to co-op students. Joe then got a chance to figuratively get his hands dirty by participating in testing the copper etching process. From there, he got his first look at how important radon measurements and mitigation are to the processes at SNOLAB by learning about our radon board. To cap off the day, Joe helped build components needed for the construction of a new cosmic ray cube, part of the Cosmic Rays Live program at SNOLAB.  

Joe holding components of a new cosmic ray cube under construction in the surface clean laboratory.

Day two of Joe’s visit is when things got deep – literally. He got to experience the early wake-up needed to catch the cage underground and fit right in with his full set of mine gear. During his visit underground, he got a detailed look at the facility and the experiments taking place, including an exciting look at some experiments under construction. When asked about what stood out about his first experience at SNOLAB, Joe said, “What really struck me was the variety of specializations coming together – I obviously expected to see physics and engineering, but I hadn’t considered the amount of chemistry, and trades-work that would be needed to operate the experiments. The science going on is amazing and that is before you consider the fact that it is all taking place two kilometers underground – in a clean lab.”

Reflections in a sample photomultiplier tube in the SNO+ control room underground at SNOLAB.

Day three of his visit included seeing a bit more of what Sudbury has to offer. Joe went to Science North and met up with a member of their education team to get a unique overview of the facility. Joe was able to use this as a great opportunity to get ideas for his classroom and, of course, try the bed of nails! We also made sure that he experienced the Sudbury must-see, the Big Nickel.  

Joe tests out the bed of nails exhibit in the Space Place at Science North.

On his last full day in Sudbury Joe went underground again to learn more about radon measurements and mitigation at SNOLAB. Joe shadowed a staff scientist performing a SNO+ water assay that takes precise measurements of radon atoms present in the ultra-pure water used in the experiment. Part of this process allowed him to get a rare look in the deck clean room (DCR) of the SNO+ experiment. On his return to surface, he was rewarded with a picture of Art McDonald’s Nobel Prize for completing his busy week with us! 

Joe learning about the assay process in the underground water plant at SNOLAB.

“I think my favourite part of visiting SNOLAB was the opportunity to help out with the science that was going on – I wasn’t just getting a look around. From spraying helium to help with leak tests to running through check-lists on the water assay I got a taste of what science underground at the lab feels like in action. I hope to convey this experience to my current, future and former students to inspire them to want to come and contribute to the science going on at SNOLAB”, said Joe. 

Teachers have a huge impact on student’s experiences in STEM, in sharing the excitement these fields have to offer, and in highlighting the many pathways into science. As part of SNOLAB’s mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators, we were thrilled to host Joe and look forward to seeing how he will take his experience at SNOLAB back into the classroom.

Read the full press release about the 2020 CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching High School Physics that was awarded to Joseph Muise here.

Read more about the CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP Physics here.