CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research

Particle Builder Board Game

Product of CERN S'Cool LAB / Lachlan McGinness
board game
board game






to learn about particles, particle systems, and their properties in a fun way


Particle builder is a particle physics board game developed by Lachlan McGinness, HarriLeinonen and Rowan McGinness. The game is designed to familiarise students (aged 16-18 years) in groups of 2-3 players with the elementary particles in the standard model. The game involves playing cards which represent elementary particles and comparing the properties of these elementary particles. The game has different stages or levels. Beginning players should start on level 1 and as they become more familiar with the particles they can progress through the levels. Each level adds extra rules to the game, each of these extra rules is a metaphor/approximation for the ways real elementary particles behave. 

  • Stage 1 - Getting to know the particles: Students learn about particle properties and which particle belongs to which particle category. Students will also learn what happens during the process of annihilation and practise other particle physics terminology. 
  • Stage 2 - Introduction to interactions: Students learn about the strong interaction and the electromagnetic interaction and which particles they act on.
  • Stage 3 - Introduction to colour charge: Students learn about the colour charge and realise that all hadrons are colour neutral.
  • Stage 4 - Cross sections: This stage introduces the idea that particles do not obey deterministic laws but are probabilistic by nature. 
  • Warning! For Stage 5 and beyond the Rules become complicated! (and an extra set of cards is required) 
  • Stage 5 - Transformations: Students learn about the types of transformations that are allowed by the standard model. 
  • Stage 6 - Neutrino oscillations: Students learn about the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations. This occurs because the mass eigenstates of neutrinos are different to the flavour eigenstates of neutrinos. 
  • Stage 7 - Decays or spontaneous transformations: Too complicated, don’t play it, run away while you still can and enjoy life! 


All material including Board game, cards, and instructions are available at the CERN S'Cool LAB Website

Post date: Mon, May 11, 2020 — 18:32
Updated date: Tue, Jul 28, 2020 — 02:04

Learning Topics

Standard Model