Particle physicists shoot beams of protons at each other, and look at the result to find new particles. When they first started they thought there wouldn’t be a whole lot to see, maybe a handful of particles that were the fundamental building blocks.Of course, then they did the experiment. What they found was nothing short of shocking. The sheer number of particles they found led them to call it “The Particle Zoo“. After many years of study we found out that our “elementary particles”, our “building blocks”, were not so elementary after all. In fact, we learned that all those particles broke down into even smaller particles called quarks!In this fun afternoon science activity with your kids you can make your own particle zoo!
Kids particle physics isn’t about memorizing, it’s about engaging and enjoying.
That’s why we created apple Pi snails, and long tailed turtles from an original 1980s bubble chamber photo. You can also print out single decay tracks of particles if you want to just make an animal or two (which, to be honest, you won’t – you might think you only need an animal or two, but we made 20 in one sitting).
The beauty of these particle decay tracks and bubble chamber images is that they are just like cloud watching – everyone sees something a little different, and creativity leads to the most unusual and beloved animals for your zoo!
Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming Rosie Research and the Time Travelers lab where your kids will get to test out a little particle physics of their own using marble shooters to save the day!
Don’t forget to post your creatures on social media and tag us with #STEMSleuth!