Back To Top
Particle Header Particle Home Other sites of interest About the Program Photo Gallery Teacher Resources Student Resources


A student uses a meter stick to measure the distance between her paddles for the Paddle Separation experiment.

Sheets of lead have been stacked between two paddles to take data for the Absorption Experiment.

The “Willie Wheel” rotates the paddles, so it’s perfect for measuring muon rate as a function of angle.

A teacher maximizes paddle separation for the Muon Speed lab by securing a paddle to the ceiling.


For each type of classroom experiment, the results obtained by teacher or student researchers are categorized in the table below. While “Ideas” briefly introduce the experiment and bring up important questions for considerations, they leave the procedure up to the student. The “Student Notes” are materials prepared by teachers for their students. The "Teacher Notes" are detailed write-ups or presentations, including that teacher’s procedure, data analysis, and results. We recommend not giving the students this much detail, but letting them design an experiment on their own. When available, raw data is included for comparison with your own experiments or for data analysis practice.

Refer to the Experiments Overview for a discussion of:

  • the difference between the terms count, rate, and flux
  • how long runs should be
  • how far apart the paddles should be
  • where shielding (or absorber) should be placed and how much there should be

Refer to the following links for instructions on two different methods for performing Time of Flight Calibrations (Do you need to calibrate? If so, which method is appropriate for your experiment?):

Table of Classroom Experiments

Adobe Acrobat is required to view many of the files below.

Credit has been given to the authors when their names were included in the documents; please email us to have a document identified as your work or to indicate the date.

If you would like to share the results of an experiment your class has performed, please email us a copy of your work!

Experiment Ideas Student Notes Teacher Notes
Type of Absorber Idea  

#1: Effect of Absorber Material and Thickness on Muon Count (by Ed Kolb & Chris Testa)
Data for #1: Lead, Absorber

#9: Fitting Lead Absorption Data (emphasis on analysis)

Placement of absorber Idea    
Thickness of Absorber Idea   See Write-up #1 and its data
Cosmic Ray Showers in Material Idea    
Scattering of Cosmic Rays Idea    
Paddle Separation Idea Students Notes for #2

#2: Horizontal Separation Experiment (by Bob Meek & Don Dean, Summer 2004)
Data for #2: 4,6,8,10,12,20

Variation with Pressure Idea   #11: Simulating Changes in Air Pressure Using Water (by Barbara Barker, Summer 2005)
Lesson Plan for #11
Variation with Temperature Idea    
Variation with Time Idea    
Angular Dependence (Altitude) Idea  

#10: Muon Rate vs. Angle (by Joan Taber)

#13: Noise Filtration for Counting Horizontal Muons (by Patrick Frievald, Summer 2005)
Data for #13

Angular Dependence (Azimuthal) Idea Student Notes for #4

#4: Dependence of Muon Rate on Direction: N, S, E,W (by Rachael Anderman and Carol Hoffman)
Presentation for #4
Data for #4: 0,45,90,135_1,135_2

Dependence on Location Idea  

#3: Does Location Make a Difference in Muon Rates: Indoor vs. Outdoor (by Richard Thorley and Kelly Hebden)
Presentation for #3

#8: Muon Rate vs. Ceilings (by Barbara Barker and Dick Hendrick)

Muon Lifetime    

#5: Muon Lifetime Laboratory Instructions (emphasis on procedure)

#6: Developing a Best Fit Exponential Curve for Muon Lifetime (emphasis on analysis)

Comparison of flux to SLAC's data Idea    
Muon Speed   Student Notes for #14

#7: Finding Muon Speed with a Two Paddle Set-Up
Presentation for #7 (Summer 2003)
Data for #7: small, large

#12: Calculating Muon Speed with a Three Paddle Set-up (by Chris Testa, Summer 2005)

#14: Finding Muon Speed with a Three Paddle Set-up (by Greg Baker, Summer 2005)

#15: Upward Moving Muons? (by Carol Hoffman, Summer 2005)

Cosmic Rays in Flight    

Byron Bergen's Plane Flight Presentation
Data from Plane Flight, Binned in Time: 1,5,10
Data Plots from Plane Flight, 2004 Analysis

Briana and Kate Summer 2005 Analysis with Reanalyzed Data - Binned by Altitude Data

Data Plots from Plane Flight, 2004 Analysis

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, PO Box 270171, Rochester, NY 14627-0170, (585)-275-5306