Freshmen and sophomore Querbes Scholars learned about these and more during their visit last week to the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory, Fermilab. Located near Batavia, Fermilab specializes in high-energy particle physics, and Saint Viator students saw firsthand some of its leading technology and experiments.
Their tour started with visiting Fermilab’s particle accelerator, which produces some of the highest energy particle beams in the world. Students learned just how much energy is needed to accelerate particles and how much electricity is used.
Next, they visited the Lederman Science Center for a series of hands-on experiments, before heading up to the 15th floor of Wilson Hall for a panoramic view of Fermilab’s 6,800 acres. They also toured a series of displays explaining the mysteries of matter that are held by individual particles inside the atom’s nucleus—including colliding protons, quarks and leptons.
“This was such an enriching field trip that gave us a view into modern, cutting edge physics and how physicists will use their research to help us further understand our universe,” said Marcus Lannie ’19.
His classmate, Kevin Wilhite ’19, agreed, adding: “This field trip made me realize just how much interesting information is out there about science.”
Querbes Scholars have toured Fermilab nearly every year since the honors program was launched in 2010. Mrs. Cate Majka, physics teacher and one of the Querbes Scholars moderators, says immersing such motivated students as the Querbes Scholars around leading scientists—in their environment—is important.
“Scientists at Fermilab are on the cutting edge of determining how neutrinos may help us understand what dark matter and dark energy is and why the universe is actually expanding rather than contracting,” Mrs. Majka says. “They are currently conducting leading experiments on particle accelerators and the measurements of the cosmos and work closely with 86 research universities around the world.”