Put a neutrino on a seesaw at the Lederman Science Center

Swing by the Lederman Science Center to see the new exhibit. Photo: Ketevan Akhobadze

Where does mass come from? Why are neutrinos so incredibly light compared to other fundamental particles? Do neutrinos get their tiny masses from the Higgs field like other particles or from some other mechanism? These are a few questions concerning mass — the fundamental property of matter.

“Can You Weigh a Neutrino?” is a new exhibit at the Lederman Science Center that introduces Fermilab visitors to the elementary particle mass scale. Fundamental particles are represented by weighted balls of the same size. Different particle families — quarks, leptons and bosons — are color-coded. Visitors will pick the “particles” up, feel their weights and arrange them from lightest to heaviest. There is a seesaw to test the arrangement and an iPad with an interactive Standard Model chart to find out which fundamental particles were discovered at Fermilab.

I did enjoy the process of designing and building this exhibit with the Education and Public Outreach exhibit committee, and we hope our visitors will enjoy it too. Fermilab carpenter Dana Smith performed all the carpentry work.

This exhibit was partially funded by Fermilab Friends for Science Education. FFSE will host a tea at the Lederman Science Center on Wednesday, April 22, to dedicate the exhibit in honor of Simone Marcocci, a brilliant Fermilab neutrino scientist who was passionate about science education.

We would like to thank neutrino scientists Kirsty Duffy and Bryan Ramson for their consultation and feedback.

Special thanks to Rebecca Thompson, head of the Office of Education and Public Outreach, Maureen Hix and Amanda Early, Fermilab education program leaders, for their feedback and support in the process of building this exhibit.

Visit us at the Lederman Science Center and check it out. Where else can you put a neutrino on a seesaw?

Ketevan Akhobadze is the Fermilab education facilities coordinator.