Common Sense Review
Updated July 2015

The Particle Adventure

Expert explanations on stranger-than-fiction world of the subatomic
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • The homepage highlights five major topics for exploration.
  • Content is helpfully organized along the left-hand side of the screen.
  • Good analogies help readers make sense of the content.
  • Some slides have interactive components, like this quiz question.
  • Related classroom activities support learning.
There’s great grounding here for an in-depth study of the nature of matter, as well as insight into how we know what we know.
Simply put: This is cerebral, hard-to-grasp content, and more interactivity is needed to support sense-making.
Bottom Line
If you cover content that extends to subatomic particles and related forces, add this site to your teacher favorites.
Christie Thomas
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Super-intriguing explanations detail tiny leptons and fundamental forces; readers are drawn in to the bizarre-but-real. Still, this esoteric content demands focus; animated clips or interactive games could increase visitor stamina.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

The authors truly make most explanations accessible; their analogies and drawings help. Yet there’s a limit to how much can be understood passively. A moderated chat room or ask-an-expert option could help.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

The site’s clear organization and glossary help visitors. Animated clips would be a meaningful addition, and an audio version of the text would further add support. More background info could help anyone who feels a bit intimidated.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Generally, high school science classes don’t cover this content. But if you're handling subatomic particles and related forces with advanced physics or chemistry classes, or as an extension for some kids, then The Particle Adventure will be a great go-to resource. Even advanced kids may find tackling this complex content difficult on their own. Think about doing a brief in-class overview of The Standard Model, and then have kids go back in pairs to complete a note sheet or make a study guide.

Pairs or groups of students can then tackle various chunks of content in other sections, sharing with classmates via brief report-outs or a jigsaw. Try using site analogies to launch class discussions. Definitely use the CPEP materials (“Classroom Activities”) as hands-on, in-class learning connections. Plan ahead by contacting CPEP for the (free) User ID required to access teacher pages. Also check out the link to Quarked!, which houses a more youth-oriented take on this content.

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What's It Like?

The Particle Adventure is an informational website explaining the strange (but true) world of the subatomic. Beneath the main picture on the homepage are links to the 5 major topics: The Standard Model, Accelerators, Higgs Boson, Unsolved Mysteries, and Particle Decays. Clicking on “Go!” takes you to the content, which is organized into 10 or more slides per topic. A left-hand menu bar helpfully serves as a “table of contents,” allowing visitors to see where they are as they move through the information.

A few slides have interactive components: quiz questions with pop-up answers or images that change upon mouse-over. There is also a list of Additional Features (at the bottom of the homepage), which includes related websites, links to purchasing books and posters, and curriculum from the Contemporary Physics Education Program (CPEP); click on “Classroom Activities" to find these resources and more.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The site presents mind-boggling info in a well-organized, straightforward way. Great analogies help readers make sense of things: String theory compares the motion of a person on a tightrope (one dimension) with a flea on the same rope (two dimensions). The authors clearly note when topics they mention will be further explored later on. Cute puns ("put your mouse on the elephant") help lighten dense topics. The text importantly draws attention to how scientists “know what we know” and what unanswered questions remain.

Overall, the site is geared toward advanced students and adults, and even this audience could benefit from more opportunities to interact. Directly coordinated in-class activities, interviews with scientists, animated visualizations, and interactive games could all increase engagement and accessibility.

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See how teachers are using The Particle Adventure