The Standard Model: Using CERN output graphics to identify elementary particles

Dave Trapp,
current status of ongoing development of this lesson for studying the latest experimental evidence
Author Profile
This material was originally developed through comPADRE
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: July 29, 2007


Image of Elementary Particle Tracks
Following reading the historical development of the Standard Model, students view sample output images and criteria for identifying typical elementary particle tracks. Students then use links to OPAL and DELPHI data archives from CERN to attempt to identify and study the frequency of each kind of collision initiated event. Students should upon completion be able to theoretically and experimentally distinguish the various kinds of standard model particles and their properties.

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Learning Goals

The student will be able to
  1. distinguish the basic categories of particles in the Standard Model
  2. distinguish the various elementary particles by their properties, and
  3. identify elementary particles by their tracks in collider detector images

Context for Use

Educational level: introductory
Setting: may be used for independent study either as a part of a full study of introductory physics or as a single lesson. It could also be assigned for use from a introductory physics classroom setting.
Time required: Roughly 2 hours
Special equipment: computer and monitor
Pre-requisite knowledge: understanding of basic classical physics.

Description and Teaching Materials

The full experiment is available at which is part of

Directions and needed introductory materials are all included in the web page. Batches of recorded data events from CERN are accessed by the links listed below which are embedded in the activity web page. No additional materials need to be accessed except the activity web page. Students either independently or at teacher direction access the web activity page, following the directions there, recording their findings in a journal, and complete the assignment by drafting a formal laboratory report as necessary.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Setup and Introduction are included on the web page

The activity is designed for independent study by a student. It was not intended to need any teacher provided directions. However is it is modified for use by a class of students, the instructor should consider what additional directions are pertinent as a result of the modification.


It is intended for a student maintain a journal of all experiments performed. If the student desires credit for her or his work, the directions recommend preparing a formal written report based on the criteria at

References and Resources