Mastering the grid

Tue 13th March 2012

Once again many of the UK’s particle physics groups are hosting “masterclasses” for 6th form students this year. With help from the Institute of Physics researchers working on particle physics share their knowledge and enthusiasm for their subject through a day packed with informative and stimulating activities. This year some of the classes will have members of GridPP involved.

The masterclass programme has been running since 1997 and is an opportunity for students still at school to learn about cutting-edge science and find out what it means to do research for a living. The great thing about the idea is that each university decides how to put together their own day, want to focus on the LHC? Fine. More interested in talking about particle physics as a discipline? That works too. This year GridPP has been invited by some of the organisers to include some content about grid computing.

The grid is a major tool in modern research, especially particle physics and the UK is a major partner in the global project managing it. Computing already plays a big part in some of the masterclasses. One of the popular activities uses data from particle physics experiments to create event displays and the students are asked to identify the particles present. While this is just a simulation, it is in the spirit of the kind work done on the grid by researchers.

Masterclass at UCL being shown around computing cluster
Student’s attending UCL’s masterclass being shown around their computing cluster
IPPOG Logo In the last 15 years the masterclasses have grown in the UK but since 2005 they have had an international dimension. The International Particle Physics Outreach Group has used the template created in the UK to run the International Masterclasses connecting schools and universities around the world. Using the results discovered by the teams at each university during the computing exercises they organise a video conference for discussion and combination of the results between two or more schools in Europe. This helps really explain the virtual and distributed nature of the discipline, highlighting the excitement of international collaboration and the benefits of working together on these global projects.

This year the Daresbury Laboratory (8th and 9th of March), University of Oxford (12th and 13th of March), UCL (19th of March), Queen Mary, University of London (21st of March), and Bristol University (27th and 28th of March) will all have talks about GridPP included in their programme. If you have an idea for an event that GridPP could be involved in or want to work with us on a similar event just contact us on

© Copyright GridPP
If you wish to reproduce this piece please credit GridPP and contact us to say you are using it