Higgs in a Box: Investigating the Nature of a Scientific Discovery

Julia Woithe, Margherita Boselli, Panagiota Chatzidaki, Merten Nikolay Dahlkemper, Ruadh Duggan, Guillaume Durey, Niklas Herff, Anja Kranjc Horvat, Daniele Molaro, Gernot Werner Scheerer, Sascha Schmeling, Patrick Georges Thill, Jeff Wiener, Sarah Zoechling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery of the Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations in 2012 concluded the longest search for a particle in the history of particle physics and was based on the largest and most complex physics experiments ever conducted, involving thousands of scientists and engineers from around the world. It provided crucial evidence for a theory developed in the 1960s that describes the existence of the invisible Brout-Englert-Higgs field and the effects of this field on the mass of elementary particles. After the discovery, the work on the theoretical prediction was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013. This discovery provides a prime example of modern science in the making and a fantastic opportunity to discuss important aspects of Nature of Science (NoS) in the classroom. In this article, we draw connections between (a) milestones in the discovery of the Higgs boson, (b) important aspects of NoS, and (c) hands-on activities with mystery boxes, which are an effective tool to enable students to experience elements of scientific discovery and explicitly reflect on NoS. We hope that this supports educators in bringing lively discussions about modern physics research into their classrooms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2250019
JournalThe Physics Educator
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Subatomic Physics

Free keywords

  • CERN
  • Higgs boson
  • mystery boxes
  • Nature of Science


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