Math and Science Activities from Jefferson Lab
Looking for the Top Quark

Background:

Scientists are involved in a wide range of experiments and activities and often need a convenient way to represent the data they collect. Graphs provide a visual way of presenting information. Reading and interpreting graphs is a necessary skill in the sciences. This activity gives students the opportunity to practice their graphing skills while playing a game.

Objectives:

In this activity students will:

- work in groups

- learn the names of the six quarks

- pick a coordinate on a grid and call out the corresponding ordered pair

- hear an ordered pair and find the corresponding point on a grid

Minimum Materials Needed for Each Student Group:

- 'My Quarks' grid

- 'My Guesses' grid

Notes:

- Current atomic theory predicts the existence of three pairs of quarks: Up and Down; Strange and Charm; Top and Bottom. Scientists had evidence for the existence of all of the quarks except for the Top quark. If the Top quark couldn't be found, atomic theory would have to be drastically revised. After years of experimentation, scientists working at another Department of Energy research laboratory called Fermi Lab finally observed evidence for the existence of the Top quark.