General Lab Information


Detecting the Building Blocks of Matter

image of students engaged in lab activity

Scientists use many different types of detectors to “see” subatomic particles. In this session, students will learn about how some of those particle detectors work and see how a diffusion cloud chamber can help them discover subatomic particles all around us. They will then practice their particle detection skills by competing against each other in a game based on the Rutherford scattering experiment.

Vocabulary: atom, subatomic particle, cloud chamber, Rutherford, detector

Session Information: This activity is available in-person or virtually.

In-Person Session Information Virtual Session Information
  • 1-hour session, times are flexible
  • One class per session, maximum 30 students per class
  • Can book multiple activities in one day
  • $400 (BOCES-aidable) per session
  • 1-hour session, times are flexible
  • One class per session, maximum 30 students per class
  • Secure link to videoconferencing platform will be provided
  • To get the most out of this virtual experience, students should have their own devices with internet access (or work with 1-2 other students on a shared device)
  • $ 400 (BOCES-aidable) per session


NYS Learning Standards

New York State Science Learning Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts Science and Engineering Practices

PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Systems and System Models

Developing and Using Models

Next Generation English Language Arts Learning Standards

Speaking and Listening Language

Comprehension and Collaboration
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Intermediate Science Core

Process Skills

Major Understandings

Standard 1, S2.1 Use conventional techniques and those of their own design to make further observations and refine their explanations, guided by a need for more information.

Standard 1, S2.1a demonstrate appropriate safety techniques

Standard 1, S2.1b conduct an experiment designed by others

Standard 1, S2.1d use appropriate tools and conventional techniques to solve problems about the natural world, including: measuring, observing, describing, classifying, sequencing

Standard 1, S2.3a use appropriate safety procedures

Standard 1, S2.3b conduct a scientific investigation

Standard 1, S2.3c collect quantitative and qualitative data

Standard 6, 2.2 Use models to study processes that cannot be studied directly (e.g., when the real process is too slow, too fast, or too dangerous for direct observation).

3.3a All matter is made up of atoms. Atoms are far too small to see with a light microscope.

3.3c Atoms may join together in well-defined molecules or may be arranged in regular geometric patterns.

3.3e The atoms of any one element are different from the atoms of other elements.

Teacher Information

These programs are registered with Eastern Suffolk BOCES Exploratory Enrichment.