On Monday we enjoyed an afternoon of Scientific talks as we staged our School Final of FameLab Academy. FameLab Academy is a schools initiative run by Cheltenham Festivals which seeks to revolutionise science communication in schools. In the competition, Year 9 students, supported by their teachers and a STEM Mentor from the world of academia or industry, prepare 3 minute presentations to explain a scientific topic in a dynamic and engaging way to a panel of judges.

Since the beginning of term all Year 9 pupils have been working hard on the FameLab Academy project, each choosing and researching a Scientific question of interest to them. Following in-class heats, the 10 School finalists presented to the whole of Year 8 and Year 9 at Monday’s final.

Joining us as judges at the event were the Education Manager from Cheltenham Festivals, Elspeth Kenny, Rob Tipples, Regional Design Engineer at National Oilwell Varvo LTD and our Librarian, Laura McIsaac Bailey.

Each of our speakers took to the floor to present their research, with their presentations being judged on content, clarity and charisma.

Talk topics were:

  • Why do we have phobias?
  • What causes the Northern and Southern Lights?
  • Fingerprints
  • The relationship between the brain and language
  • Autism
  • How do video games keep us playing?
  • Electromagnetic generators
  • The maths behind a calculator
  • Does Temperature affect the bounce of a tennis ball?
  • Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of its bottle?

Once all the students had delivered their talks the judges deliberated before announcing the winner and two runners-up. Ms Kenny praised all of the speakers for their clear enthusiasm and interest in their subject matter, congratulating them particularly for the amount of research they had completed.

The results were:
Runner-up: Megan S whose presentation was entitled “Does Temperature affect the bounce of a tennis ball?” The judges praised Megan for her use of props and her clear, scientific explanations.
Runner-up: Dan H who talked about the science behind fingerprints. Dan was commended on his confident performance and the way that he responded to the judges questions.
Winner: Izzy J who the judges said demonstrated great charisma and an impressive academic approach to her presentation on the question “How do video games keep us playing?”

In recognition of winning the School Final, Izzy now has the opportunity to participate in a masterclass in science communication, as well as a one-day visit to a local engineering company. Izzy has also secured a place at the Regional FameLab Academy Final, due to take place later this term. We look forward to seeing how she gets on!