Search for the Z and Higgs bosons

Link to the demonstrator: in English


Age: 14-17

Duration: 4 hours

Equipment: PC with internet connection 

Contact details

Author: Prof. Christine Kourkoumelis, Stelios Vourakis (IASA)
Contact: info[at]frontiers-project[dot]eu


This exercise introduces students to CERN, the LHC accelerator and the ATLAS experiment. It explains the basics of the standard model of particle physics and particle decays, more specifically Z and Higgs bosons. It explains how particles can be identified by their signatures and what invariant masses and histograms are. It gives instructions on how to use the HYPATIA event display to analyze data from ATLAS, specifically Z and Higgs boson decays. At the end through a series of questions and discussions directs students to present their findings.



Learning outcomes:

  1. Students learn about CERN, LHC and ATLAS
  2. They become familiar with the standard model of particle physics and particle decays
  3. They learn how to analyse data from the ATLAS experiment to look for specific particle signatures
  4. They are asked to present their results and justify the outcome of their investigation

Prior knowledge:

  • Structure of matter
  • Fundamental forces

Concepts introduced:


  • Particle decays


  • Relativistic mass/invariant mass
  • Histograms

Learning intentions:

By the end of this descriptor, students should be able to:

  • Understand the research being conducted at CERN and ATLAS
  • Understand how the LHC works
  • Learn how particle collisions can produce new particles
  • Identify particles by their signature
  • Understand and interpret the results of their investigation


Key activities:

  1. Videos about CERN, LHC, ATLAS
  2. Explanation about the standard model, particle collisions and decays
  3. Investigation through the use of HYPATIA
  4. Presentation of student investigation results

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