by ALICE South Africa team & iThemba LABS outreach . Published: 27 May 2014

The 10th International Particle Physics Masterclass: hands on particle physics started a with a “Big Bang“ on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at iThemba LABS, with Mr Ambrose Yaga (CiT, iThemba LABS) as Master of Ceremony. The event was organised and presented by physicists and postgraduate students from iThemba LABS and UCT working on the ALICE experiment at CERN, in collaboration with the outreach team of iThemba LABS.

The event was attended by a total of 24 learners from 6 different high schools around the City of Cape Town, local physicists and educators as well as particle physics postgraduate students from iThemba LABS and the University of Cape Town. The programme, which was opened by Dr Rudolph Nchodu (Head: Department of Nuclear Physics, iThemba LABS), included introductory lectures on the fundamentals of particle physics, particle accelerators and detectors, with an emphasis on the ALICE detector. The lectures were given by Dr Tom Dietel (Department of Physics, UCT). The practical (hands-on) session took place in the computer room. Mr Kgotlaesele Johnson Senosi (PhD student, UCT / iThemba LABS) introduced the measurement: “Looking for strange particles in ALICE“ to the learners and he was assisted by fellow UCT postgraduate students: Ms Lidija Radovanovic, Mr Josh Smith and Ms Sibaliso Mhlanga as well as by researchers: Drs Siegie Förtsch, Zinhle Buthelezi (both from iThemba LABS) and Tom Dietel.

The programme was designed in such a way that each learner had a unique opportunity to interact and work with a leaner from another school, engaging with the local physicists and get the opportunity to interact with their peers from 3 international high schools: Geneva (Switzerland), Warsaw (Poland), Cairo (Egypt) via a teleconferencing session at the end of the day. By being particle physicists for a day the learners loved working with real data from the LHC and found it both challenging and rewarding. We certainly had an amazing time and experience hosting this event at iThemba LABS.