Year 13 trip to the Cavendish Museum

Having done research into how our ideas about the atom have changed over time the year 13 students thought it would be interesting to see some of the original apparatus used by some of the scientists involved. You can read their work on the wordpress link below:                                                                                        

We were very lucky to be taken around the museum by Dr. Lisa Jardine-Wright.


Educational Outreach

J J Thomson Avenue Cavendish Laboratory

Madingley Road Cambridge


Tel: 01223 333318


The original Cavendish laboratory was set up in 1874 and was based in Free School Lane.

The Department is named to commemorate British chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish for contributions to science and his relative William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, who served as Chancellor of the University and donated money for the construction of the laboratory. Professor James Clerk Maxwell, the developer of electromagnetic theory, was a founder of the lab and became the first Cavendish Professor of Physics. The Duke of Devonshire had given to Maxwell, as Head of the Laboratory, the manuscripts of Henry Cavendish’s unpublished Electrical Works. The editing and publishing of these was Maxwell’s main scientific work while he was at the laboratory. Cavendish’s work aroused Maxwell’s intense admiration and he decided to call the Laboratory (formerly known as the Devonshire Laboratory) the Cavendish Laboratory and thus to commemorate both the Duke and Henry Cavendish.

clip_image003 clip_image005

The picture on the above left is the entrance to the old Cavendish Laboratory in Free School Lane.

It was at the old Cavendish laboratory that a lot of the important research done by the scientists, that year 13 students were interested in, did their work.

The laboratory had to move to new premises in 1974 as it needed more space.

James Clark Maxwell was the first Cavendish Professor of physics and the year 13 had learnt about some of the work he did when they were in year 12.

Dr Jardine-Wright started the tour by talking about the history of the Cavendish Laboratory.


Dr Jardine-Wright explaining some of James Clerk Maxwell’s activities to the year 13 students. From left to right: Bala; Sulax; Sinduran; Thinesh; Abdi.


Dr Jardine-Wright standing by James Clerk Maxwell’s desk.

J. J. Thomson was the third Cavendish Professor. This was a bit surprising because he was very young and he wasn’t very good at experimental work.

J. J. Thomson’s main discovery, which was of interest to the year 13, was the electron.


The above picture is a copy of the apparatus used by J. J. Thomson to discover the electron.


Dr Jardine-Wright next the cabinet that contains apparatus used by J. J. Thomson and his colleagues.


Aaron, Sulax, Sinduran, Thinesh, Bala and Abdi listening to Dr Jardine-Wright talking about J. J. Thomson and his work.

Ernest Rutherford was the fourth Cavendish Professor. He had become famous, along with Geiger and Marsden, for discovering the nucleus of the atom whilst at Manchester University, but under his direction at Cambridge James Chadwick discovered the neutron.


Dr Jardine-Wright explaining about Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron and showing the apparatus used.


Thinesh, Abdi and Bala looking at photographs of Cavendish staff taken over the years.


At the end of the tour year 13 students have their photograph taken with Dr Jardine-Wright.


Year 13 students paying their respects to the great man —- James Clerk Maxwell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s