Jo and Dan, the father-daughter team behind the Personal Particle Accelerator
Below is the back story to the Personal Particle Accelerator. For technical details, check my blogs.
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The Particle Accelerator Project
The project began in 2014 when my daughter Jo came home from school. She was 12 years old (first year of high school) at the time.
Jo: "Dad, I've got a project to make a model of something scientific... can you help please..."
Me: "Sure, what model shall we work on ?"
Jo: (thinking)... "You know the Large Hadron Collider ?"
Me: (thinking I should encourage my kids to shoot for the stars) "Sure, let's do it !!"
Jo: "Oh... by the way, we get extra marks if it works !"
So began the adventure of creating a working model particle accelerator. Yes, I know the LHC is a particle collider, but scaling back from collider to accelerator was a modest acknowledgement to the scale of the challenge...
Jo and I worked away.... hard... every Wednesday evening and every Saturday day... we learnt (or in my case, re-learnt) the relevant principles of electromagnetism... Jo learnt lots of practical skills like design, measuring, sawing, drilling, screwing, soldering and testing...
In six months, we did it, it actually worked ! We couldn't believe our eyes. This was the result:
There were several rounds of high fives before we packed it in its milk-crate and she took it to school to demonstrate. The feedback was incredible ! Everyone who saw it loved it ! The teacher gave it the infinity symbol - even better than full marks. And then the teacher asked to buy it !
When Jo told me the teacher had asked to buy it, I told her that's a sign that there's something special going on. There's something entertaining, incredible and humorous about a miniature working particle accelerator model.
And so, phase 2 began. I've devoted all my free time since then to refine and improve, refine and improve, building up to a easy to assemble, reliable, affordable kit for everyone to enjoy. So far, it looks like this:
For an overview of how it works, see http://awesome.tech/ppa-overall-design/
For more detailed posts on how it works, refer to www.awesome.tech/category/ppa
The spirit behind awesome.tech is to 'accelerate' innovation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education. There's a lot of worthwhile initiatives to increase STEM interest and participation among students, so where does the Personal Particle Accelerator fit in ? It:
- encourages 'hands-on' construction. If students are to embrace the challenges and opportunities of STEM, they need the confidence that comes with getting hands-on.
- is different - we're proud to be the first to bring a digital-based particle accelerator kit to the STEM market
- is topical - as the crew at CERN discover great things, isn't it great if we can follow along, even in a humble way ?
- is aimed at the top end of the class - especially senior years
- is designed to have very clear linkages to careers - everything we do should spell out the careers that relate to the topic under discussion