I want to learn how to fly (high) etc.
The kids from fame may not be your ideal scientific role models, but I’m delighted to be able to blog about the rather wonderful FameLab competition run by NESTA in association with the Cheltenham Science Festival.
I’d always been a bit scared of Famelab, which seeks new talent in science communication by asking anyone involved in science (researchers, teachers and so on) to communicate to an audience in just three minutes. But then I was lucky enough to be a judge at the first UK heat of this year’s competition, and we had a lot of fun, as you can see from their posted video :
Fun though that was (it’s got a frog in it!) it misses the point rather, which is that Famelab is a very serious event. The national prizes include £10,000, a foreign tour courtesy of the British Council and slots on Channel 4. More importantly, it was amazing to watch how the contestants improved between the morning’s heats and the evening’s regional final; a little thought, a little feedback from the judges (the others were much more useful than me – I was just generally impressed) and a masterclass arranged by the organisers made all the difference.
Much to my surprise, I learnt things during the day too. I learnt how precisely to explain that the LHC will not destroy the Earth, and I learnt I have the body of a 15 year old boy thanks to the replacement of my cells.
The next heat is in Bristol this Saturday, and then the roadshow visits London, Oxford and Edinburgh. If you’re at all curious about communicating science, go. If you’re a member of the public, go along to the regional finals and learn something. It’ll be the best use you will ever make of a sequence of three minute periods of your life.