July 21, 2017 (Sudbury, ON) Physics students from École Secondaire Catholique Père-René-de-Galinée in Cambridge, Ontario spent Wednesday morning 2km underground discussing some pretty interesting science. “Charging Cavaliers” are thirteen students (6 boys and 7 girls) and are one of two student teams from around the world selected to carry out their experiment at CERN’s particle accelerator as part of the annual Beamline for Schools contest.
With the Beamline for Schools competition, high-school students are enabled to run an experiment on a fully-equipped CERN beamline, in the same way that researchers do at the Large Hadron Collider and other CERN facilities. Students had to submit a written proposal and video explaining why they wanted to come to CERN, what they hoped to take away from the experience and initial thoughts of how they would use the particle beam for their experiment.
Dr. Nigel Smith, Executive Director of SNOLAB was happy to host the group; “SNOLAB is delighted to be able to support the Charging Cavaliers as they develop their fractional charge experiment at CERN. We are thrilled that a Canadian school team has been selected in this year’s Beamline for Schools, using a technology spearheaded by the SNO+ project at SNOLAB, and look forward to working with the team to help bring their particle detector to fruition.”
Their project is the search for elementary particles with a fractional charge by observing their light emission in the same type of liquid scintillator as that used in the SNO+ experiment at SNOLAB. With this proposal, they are questioning the Standard Model of particle physics and trying to get a glimpse at a yet unexplored territory.
The Cavaliers spent a day at Laurentian University in the physics department before coming to SNOLAB to learn more about photomultiplier tubes and liquid scintillator, used in much of the research carried out at SNOLAB which gave them a chance to see some of their experiment components in action and get inspired for their upcoming trip.
“We would like to thank all our partners who helped our students enhance their scientific knowledge and skills. Among others things, we would like to single out the SNOLAB team who enthusiastically coordinated the visit and who invested considerable time and energy to make this event unforgettable. The Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir is constantly seeking unique experiences that help the students in our French-speaking Catholic schools excel and aim for excellence.” Stated Melinda Chartrand, Chair of Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir.
The Honourable Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister for Research, Innovation and Science also visited SNOLAB that morning and chatted with students about their projects. “It was a pleasure to learn more about the experiment being conducted by the Charging Cavaliers during my visit to SNOLAB this week. Their success in the Beamline for Schools competition demonstrates the high calibre of young scientists in our province. The next generation of scientists are key to Ontario’s future economic prosperity, and these students are no exception. They are truly role models for our province’s youth.”
The Charging Cavaliers’ experiment shares several connections with SNOLAB; the liquid scintillator they are using was developed by Mark Chen at Queen’s University for the SNO+ experiment and has become widely used in neutrino detection, and their experiment is being overseen by CERN scientist James Pinfold of the University of Alberta. Both Queen’s University and the University of Alberta are partner institutions at SNOLAB.
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