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Below you will find some ideas how to introduce particle physics in your classroom in a hands-on way.

Cloud Chamber

Cloud Chamber

The cloud chamber was one of the first particle detectors. Today, cloud chambers are only used in education. It is very easy to build a cloud chamber with everyday material, dry ice, and Isopropyl alcohol. Below we provide a DIY manual including many information on how to interpret the observations, and what do with cloud chamber (e.g. using balloons as radioactive sources).


ATLAS Magnet Model

Cloud Chamber

The ATLAS detector, the largest particle detector at the LHC, is one the most complex machines ever built. However, due to its complexity, explaining the ATLAS detector at a high-school level can be challenging. Below, we show how to use 3D printers (or straws & cardboard) to build a model of the toroidal ATLAS magnet system. We also suggest learning activities for the physics classroom.


Model for 3D printing: Build your own functional model of the ATLAS toroidal magnet system

Model with straws: Build a model of the toroidal ATLAS magnet system with everyday material

Bubble Chamber Pictures for the Classroom

Bubble Chamber

Bubble chambers were the dominant experimental tools of particle physicists in the 1950s and 60s. They supplanted cloud chambers and lead to the Nobel Prize in Physics 1960. Bubble chambers and cloud chambers work in a very similar way. And although it is not possible to build a bubble chamber in the classroom, students can analyse bubble chamber tracks and learn more about particle identification, e.g. after having built and observed cloud chambers.

Woithe, J., Schmidt, R., Naumann, F. (2018). Student worksheet & solutions: Bubble chamber pictures. docx, pdf (version 12-03-2018)

This worksheet is based on images recorded by the 2 m bubble chamber at CERN on 10 August 1972. The bubble chamber was exposed to a beam of protons from CERN’s proton synchrotron PS with a momentum of 24 GeV/c. The original pictures as well as the pictured with coloured tracks can be found online:

3D-printable Quadrupole Ion Trap


Quadrupole ion traps can be used to trap electrically charged particles. At CERN, the GBAR experiment at the antimatter factory uses this particle trap to store anti-hydrogen-ions. Below you can find building instruction for 3D-printable quadrupole ion trap capable of trapping electrically charged "macroscopic particles" such as cinnamon of lycopodium spores. The quadrupole ion trap operates using a 3 kV 50Hz alternating current power supply and uses an astable multivibrator circuit to illuminate the spores, using the stroboscopic effect to exhibit their movement. In addition, we provide worksheets to help students discover the physics behind these traps.

All files can be found on zenodo (DIY Manual and Student Worksheets , STL files for 3D printing & Modifiable Design Files F3D Fusion 360 files)

Quark Puzzle

Quarks are fundamental particles in the Standard Model of particle physics. They make up the protons and neutrons that we are familiar with, but also a zoo of other more exotic particles like pions and kaons. Quarks have never been isolated; they always form groups of two or three. But what are the rules that govern these mysterious quarks?

Find out with the quark puzzle, a set of 3D printable pieces that represent quarks. Each piece is labelled with a quark type, electric charge and colour charge, and has joints that allow it to connect to other quark pieces. You can use these to discover the rules of the strong nuclear force and colour charge, or to build your own models of particle systems.

There are three sets available, a 3D puzzle:

A 3D-printable 2 dimensional puzzle:

A set of quark cookie cutters that you can use to make your own cookies that can be combined according to the laws of the Standard Model of particle physics (Yum!):

If you would like to use the quark puzzle as a classroom activity, there are also worksheets, solutions and a teacher guide:

Teacher Manual and Solutions

Scaffolded Worksheet

Open Inquiry Worksheet

Particle Identities Quiz


Answer 7 questions to find out which elementary particle fits your personaliy best.
Available in English, French, and German.
Particle designs from The Particle Zoo



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