FameLab Regional Finals

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This month I got the chance to be the Simon Cowell of sci-comms, judging in the Welsh regional finals of FameLab at Techniquest to find the up-and-coming science communicators.

I was joined on the judging panel by Dr Tim Cockerill and Beth Evans, to judge the contestants on their charisma, clarity and content – and believe me it was incredibly hard!

All of the contestants were amazing science communicators, who could turn something as complex as brain surgery or time travel into an understandable and engaging presentation. They had three minutes to present a topic of scientific research to the gallery and the panel of judges, and whoever was successful would go on to compete in the UK wide final.

I was incredibly impressed with the standard, and how well humour and narrative was used to explain very difficult scientific topics (including the physics of time), making the research understandable for the general public, and an audience of a variety of ages and levels of scientific understanding.

This made judging the winners very hard, and it was a close contest. The panel had to choose a wild card winner and an overall winner, from the contestants who came from all over Wales.

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After deliberation, we decided that our wild card would be awarded to the charismatic Daniel Olaiya, a neurosurgeon who gave an engaging presentation about Parkinson’s disease, the midbrain and Deep Brain Stimulation; which featured a clever use of dance moves and song lyrics to get his points across.

The overall winner of the FameLab regional final was awarded to Carol Glover, who told a humorous story of deterring a thief from stealing a bike by educating him about corrosive worms. Her use of comedy and a storyline helped to make the topic clear and understandable within the three minute time limit.

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I came away from the event impressed by everyone. All of the regional finalists were fantastic, and it was a truly hard decision to make, as all of the contestants were knowledgable in their field and effortlessly made their topics understandable and exciting – the key to science communication!

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How to hack your home – Professor Danielle George MBE CHRISTMAS LECTURE

Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.
Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

Robots are coming to Cardiff! (And not in the apocalyptic kind of way – but in the way that will inspire young girls and boys into STEM)

The Royal Institution is bringing the world famous CHRISTMAS LECTURES to Wales, with the inspirational electrical engineer Professor Danielle George MBE discussing how to hack your home. The series of UK live shows will culminate in Cardiff, challenging audiences to use their imaginations to change the world, inspiring the next generation of inventors and engineers.

Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.
Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

The aim of the tour is to engage local areas across the UK with topics in STEM, making science topics easily accessible and exciting.

If you have been reading my blog a while, you would have heard me talk a lot about the power of making science accessible at home, and how Science Capital can help improve diversity in STEM. But if you haven’t heard me talk about this before, let me break it down.

Certain groups are significantly less likely to interact with science on an everyday basis – these groups tend to be girls, non-white children and working-class children. Because of this, these groups are less likely to describe science as a ‘subject for them’, and are less likely to see STEM as a potential career path for them. Therefore, creating events or projects that bring science into the home and make it accessible, are vital in the endeavours of improving diversity in STEM – and the RI are doing just that!

Not only do they have a YouTube series, ExpeRimental, that has free science activities for families to do at home, but they are also bringing science to local communities across the UK, through their series of lectures. This will help to reach children who are less likely to interact with science regularly, building their confidence in STEM subjects, and will help to capture their imagination.

And the lecture is presented by a woman!

Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.
Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

Danielle is Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering at the University of Manchester and presented the 2014 CHRISTMAS LECTURES ‘Sparks will fly: How to hack your home’ – and will be inspiring young girls without even realising it.

By increasing the representation of women in STEM, we are helping to create excellent female role models. By seeing women doing science, it will help little girls to imagine themselves doing science in the future as well.

If you are in Wales, come along to the Reardon Smith Theatre in the National Museum Wales in Cardiff on March 13 – whether you are four or forty, I am sure you will enjoy it!

It is vitally important that shows like this are set up, because not only are they educational and are engaging people with STEM, but they are helping to capture the minds of young girls and help them to realise their full potential in science careers.

(Psst! Also, the tickets are buy-one-get-one free!)

For more information about the event, click here.

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The Creator Series – Episode One

In February, the talented Matt Eastland-Jones came and interviewed me as part of his Creator Series. He is interviewing bloggers, filmmakers, photographers – any creative with a good story to tell.

I was the first participant in this project, and if you want to get involved with this series, send an email to matt@mattstravelblog.co.uk.

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#WomenInSTEM Postcards Available Now!

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Raise awareness for women in STEM, by purchasing a limited edition #WomenInSTEM Postcard, send it around the world, and encourage your friends to look up what these amazing women did for science!

The proceeds with be donated to ScienceGrrl, helping to fund their projects which encourage girls into science.

Now available to buy here: http://etsy.me/2kQ9AEr

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