Students build cosmic ray detector

Aug. 3, 2009 at 2:13 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Four Miami-area high school students have an unusual summer job on their resumes: building a cosmic ray detector alongside nuclear physicists.

The four participated in a six-week paid internship with Florida International University's physics department, selected from a pool of top student applicants, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

"It was a little overwhelming at first," Alyssa Indart, 17, told the Herald. "But we learned not to be intimidated by anything -- not even particle physics."

The program is just one of many the university had begun in recent years to grow South Florida's physics community.

"We chose the best of the best," physics Professor David Jones said. "These kids have a real aptitude for the sciences."

"When we first started, we didn't know anything about cosmic rays or muons (energetic charged particles at sea level)," Dennis Prieto, 17, said. "We just had to go with the flow."

The university's physics department also offers workshops for high school physics teachers and has a program to encourage physics majors to consider teaching careers, the newspaper said.

"We want to push the envelope," said Laird Kramer, a professor leading the effort to reform FIU's physics education. "We want to empower students to become scientists and educators."

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