skip to content

Department of Physics

Educational Outreach


materials science handson experiment


Physics at Work 2020

This year the Cavendish will host the 36th annual Physics at Work Exhibition online.

2020 dates:

 - Online Demonstrations from 14th September

 - Live Q&A sessions from 21st  to 25th September

Physics at Work aims to show the variety of careers to which study in Physics can lead and the range of practical problems that physics can be used to solve.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year's Physics at Work will take place online.  Recordings of demonstrations will be hosted on this website and live Q&A sessions with each of the Exhibitors will be hosted here from 21st to 25th September.

Please contact us with any questions.

This year, we are proud to announce that the following groups will be exhibiting.  The exhibition overview can be found here and the Q&A timetable can be found here.  Detailed feedback is essential for the development of our events, please click here to complete a feedback form when you have finished with the event.

Exhibitor Exhibit Page Q&A Date and Time
AWE (Official Site)

Click Here

16:15 - 16:45 on Wednesday 23/09

British Antarctic Survey (Official Site) Click Here 14:15 - 14:45 on Thursday 24/09
Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (Official Site) Click Here 14:15 - 14:45 on Wednesday 23/09
Domino (Official Site) Click Here 14:15 - 14:45 on Monday 21/09
High Energy Physics Research Group (Official Site) Click Here 14:15 - 14:45 on Tuesday 22/09
Isaac Physics (Official Site) Click Here 13:15 - 13:45 on Wednesday 23/09
Dept. of Materials Science (Official Site) Click Here 16:15 - 16:45 on Thursday 24/09
MathWorks (Official Site) Click Here 13:15 - 13:45 on Friday 25/09
Nanophotonics Research Group (Official Site) Click Here 13:15 - 13:45 on Monday 21/09 
Optoelectronics Research Group (Official Site) Click Here 16:15 - 16:45 on Monday 21/09
Rolls Royce (Official Site) Click Here TBA
Seeing with Atoms (Official Site) Click Here 13:15 - 13:45 on Thursday 24/09
Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (Official Site) Click Here 13:15 - 13:45 on Tuesday 22/09

We are indebted to our exhibitors for the time and effort they generously donate to make Physics at Work a success each year.




Physics at Work - Previous Events

The primary aim of the exhibition is to stimulate interest and encourage wider participation in physics amongst 14-16 year olds by showcasing the many and varied ways in which physics is used in the everyday world. This event is open to all schools and is free (there is a £1 per student refundable deposit).

The exhibition is run in a similar way each year, based upon interaction between active scientific researchers and potential scientists. This will help to spread the excitement of modern physics research to students who will soon be making career and examination choices and is a vital component in encouraging the next generation of scientists.

The Physics at Work Exhibition runs over three days, with two sessions on each day. This event is centred around approximately 25 exhibitors and is held at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Some of the exhibitors are from Research Groups within the Cavendish Laboratory and the others are from industry, including companies such as Rolls-Royce Plc., Domino Printing Services and The Technology Partnership.

Each half-day session typically has a capacity for about 450 students. The students are split into small groups of around 15 and are accompanied by a teacher as they follow a route defined by the organisers. Each small group, with its teacher, visits six exhibits over a period of about three hours, including a short break halfway through. Each exhibit usually consists of a short presentation, practical demonstrations, an opportunity for hands-on involvement and time for asking questions. A booklet of information is provided to support the exhibition, allowing teachers to bring ideas back into their lessons later in the year. This structured approach has developed over time and allows the students to engage thoroughly with the science on display.

The Physics at Work Exhibition is an integral part of the Cavendish Laboratory's Aspiration Raising activities, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.


Thanks to a generous legacy, we are able to offer support schools with regards to the cost of travel and lesson cover.

To ensure that this assistance is directed to meet greatest needs, we welcome applications from schools falling into the following two categories:

  1. Up to £300 for travel provided for schools that are in POLAR4 quintiles 1,2, or 3
  2. Up to £750 for any state school that organises a coach for their school + at least one other
  3. Lesson cover up to £300 for schools in quintiles 1 or 2 in the POLAR4 survey.

If you are unsure which quintile your school is in, the Office for Students has a tool for looking this up located here.  Please get in touch if you have any questions about these bursaries.