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Department of Physics

Educational Outreach


materials science handson experiment

Physics at Work 2024

In 2024, the Cavendish will host the 40th annual Physics at Work Exhibition at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

2024 dates: Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th September, 9:00-12:05 and 13:00-16:05

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Physics at Work aims to show 14-16yr olds the variety of careers to which study in Physics can lead and the range of practical problems that physics can be used to solve. This event is open to all schools and is free (there is a £10 per group refundable deposit).

The exhibition is run in a similar way each year, based upon interaction between active scientific researchers and students. This will help to inform and 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 AWE.

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.

Previous year's booklets can be accessed here.

The Physics at Work Exhibition is an integral part of the Cavendish Laboratory's outreach and engagement activities, funded by the Department of Physics, Institute of Physics, and generous donations.


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:

Available Bursaries & Criteria


1. Up to £500 for travel provided for schools that are in POLAR4 quintiles 1,2, or 3

2. Up to £1500 for any state school that organises a coach for their school and at least one other


3. Lesson cover up to £300 for schools in quintiles 1 or 2 in the POLAR4 survey

To claim the bursaries schools will be asked to raise one invoice for the total cost of travel and cover to the Cavendish Laboratory.

Receipts for travel must be sent with the school invoice as proof of cost unless minibus mileage is being claimed. (We cannot pay coach companies directly).

Accommodation & Food

FREE accommodation, dinner and/or lunch can be provided for state schools travelling more than 120 miles to attend a Cavendish event. Accommodation and meals are subject to availability and only available for specific dates and events due to University Term. (See Physics at Work). Please contact Dr Nicki Humphrey-Baker if you have any questions.

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.