Centro Fermi & Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati - INFN (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 7646-7650
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.1956
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Cosmic ray physics represents a perfect environment for educating people to science. Cosmic rays are, indeed, present everywhere on the Earth surface, and as such constitute a natural phenomenon to be investigated by non-professional people. Such an investigation can be performed both in fixed laboratories – as the ones hosted in universities, research centers or high-schools – and through the aim of portable devices, that allow to map secondary cosmic ray flux on different regions and in different conditions. In this scenario, the Extreme-Energy Events (EEE) Experiment plays a relevant role. It is a cosmic ray observatory based on a network of detecting stations distributed over the Italian territory. A station of the network, called “telescope”, consists of three superimposed Multi-gap Resistive Plate Chambers (MRPCs), already used in the time-of-flight detector of the ALICE experiment at CERN-LHC. The large area covered by the network, ranging from the southmost position in Italy (Lampedusa island) up to the CERN laboratories, was achieved with the decision to install the detectors inside high schools, involving students and teachers in a modern experiment within a unique program. In addition to this network of MRPCs, the EEE researchers and students from the Italian "Istituto Tecnico Industriale Amedeo Avogadro" in Turin constructed a set of scintillator-based portable detectors – the so-called Cosmic Boxes – that can be used to map cosmic ray fluxes in different environments as, e.g., on the top of the mountains and deeply underground insides mines (as it has been done in the Nuraxi Figus complex in Sardinia, Italy). Thanks to these two different detector typologies, the outreach program of the EEE Project can be articulated in several initiatives, each encoding the different aspects of the research activity normally expected in a high-energy physics experiment. Students are involved in MRPC construction at CERN, in their installation in schools, and in the first commissioning stages of the station when data taking starts, as well as on the analysis of the data, supporting the scientific output of the experiment. In parallel to the operations carried on with the MRPC network, a large plethora of possibilities is offered by the portable detectors. As an example, to make their scientific life experience complete, students are asked to prepare research projects based on the cosmic boxes, proposing different measurements (e.g., study of flux variation with altitudes, with detector inclination, with external conditions etc) and preparing a detailed program for their activity, also discussing the data taking time and expected statistics, the choice of places where to perform the measurements and the connections with other disciplines (geology, speleology etc). The projects are evaluated by the EEE researchers, and the best ones are awarded with a cosmic box, that can be used for a given amount of time to carry on the proposed measurement.
In this talk, an overview of the EEE scientific activity will be given, highlighting the pedagogical aspects of the cooperation between high-school teachers and students and professional researchers. Some of the measurements performed by the collaboration, both through the MRPC network and through the cosmic boxes, will be described, and the contribution given by students will be discussed.
Outreach, cosmic rays, physics, STEM.