Women in Particle Physics

The International Day for Girls and Women in Science strives to celebrate the often unknown achievements of women in scientific fields and encourage the participation of girls in STEM fields. It is with this purpose that the CIEMAT (Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas) organised a particle physics masterclass for girls aged 16-18 in which they could interact with female researchers while exploring the wonders of sub-atomic physics.

Not only were the students who participated able to attend a lecture given by Begoña de la Cruz, a senior staff researcher in the Particle Physics division of the organisation but also ask any questions involving their interests beyond the classroom to a group of Phd students working at CIEMAT. The girls were also able to see a cloud chamber built in the CIEMAT’s laboratory as well as a Geiger counter and understand the processes behind the effectiveness of the equipment.

After the masterclass, the students were able to do a practical exercise on the computer in which they analysed data from CERN in order to try and categorise particle decay according to the paths taken by the quarks emitted from the process. This data was later analysed and commented on as a group. The students then proceeded to have a conference call with two researchers currently working a CERN who gave their input on the results obtained. The conference call with the scientists was an invaluable experience for the girls who could learn more about the experiences of these female researchers and their daily life working in such a prestigious organisation.

The Runnymedians who participated were treated wonderfully by all the researchers involved in the masterclass who were not only willing to help with any difficulties during the practical tasks but also answered all questions with enthusiasm and interest.

Angélica O, Year 12

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