Notre Dame QuarkNet Center expands masterclasses in Chile

Author: Marissa Gebhard



A year ago, Notre Dame International awarded the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center an Andrónico Luksic grant to create the Masterclass Institutes Collaborating in the Americas (MICA).  Program directors Mitchell Wayne, professor of physics, and Kenneth Cecire, QuarkNet national staff teacher, used the funds to create a collaboration between Pontifica Universidad Católica (PUC) in Santiago, Chile and the University of Notre Dame particle physics education and outreach programs.

Now Notre Dame International has granted the team a new award, MICA II, to deepen and extend the collaboration in particle physics masterclasses and, now, university-level particle physics research. In MICA II, Adam Martin, assistant professor of physics, and Trinity School physics teacher Patrick Mooney ’78, ’86 Ph.D. will return to Santiago in February to facilitate, along with PUC physicists Ben Koch, Marco Diaz, and Pedro Ochoa,  another masterclass workshop for teachers which will go further into particle physics that can be done in high school.  According to Koch, “The registrations are filling rapidly with truly enthusiastic motivation letters from teachers who participated in the first version of MICA last year.”


Martin will also work with his PUC colleagues to lead a workshop in physics at the Large Hadron Collider for PUC undergraduate and graduate students.  Martin states that “The Notre Dame International grant will help strengthen and expand our ties with PUC. I am happy to participate, and look forward to our collaborations in Chile.“

The collaboration will continue with a particle physics masterclass in March. High school students at both Notre Dame and PUC will participate and will share particle physics learning between the two universities by videoconference.  Finally, the PUC particle physics group will add more resources to the collaboration by sending at least one Chilean physics teacher to Notre Dame in July 2015 to participate in particle physics research with QuarkNet teachers and students.

The Andrónico Luksic grant is supported by a gift from Chilean benefactor Andrónico Luksic. The objective of the funding is to encourage the Notre Dame community to find new ways to collaborate with colleagues from PUC on research, exchanges, conferences, and to increase the flow of Notre Dame faculty and staff going to Santiago.