Science stars in the making – Sign Up for FameLab 2019 now!

Nourish your neurones and enter FameLab UK 2019, where explaining your research to a lay audience happens against the clock. All the lab’s a stage, and nowhere more so than at FameLab – the longest-running science communication competition in the world.

Science Oxford runs both the regional heats and final and we’re delighted to announce the launch of the 2019 competition. Perhaps you do some amazing research and want to share it with the world? Or do you watch other sci-comm professionals and think ‘I could do better’? Whatever your motivation, we’d love to hear from you and signing-up is easy  – the 2019 Oxford heats will be held at St Aldates Tavern in Oxford on 12th and 13th February and the regional final will take place at the Wig and Pen, George Street, Oxford on 8th March 2019.

What is FameLab? Famelab is a UK-wide competition to find the new voices of science and engineering. It’s for people with a gift for creating an engaging story around either their own scientific research or an area of science they find interesting and who enjoy performing. Participants have to come-up with a three-minute skit that will win over a panel of judges as well as general public audience. Previous FameLabbers have included astrophysicists, teachers, oil engineers and junior doctors.

The judges will be looking for the 3C’s when watching the performances – content, clarity and charisma.

Content – Does the talk have structure and a creative narrative?

Clarity – How does the contestant bring the topic to life and make it easily understandable?

Charisma – How does the contestant interact with their audience (body language, eye contact, delivery?)

It’s a great opportunity to try out content in front of a live audience and develop better communication skills as well as get training and feedback from experts in the science communication field. No PowerPoints or notes are allowed but props provide a very useful tool. In the past, there have been giant inflatable suns, pockets full of tangerines, guitars and even a toga-totting tattooed mathematician!

Oxford competitors have a great record of making it to the final (and doing really well.) In 2018, Lucy Guille – a junior doctor from Bristol who took part in the Oxford heats – went on to win the nation final – she said,
“I entered the Oxford Famelab heat with the goal of sharing some of this learning and demonstrating that a career in science can take you anywhere.” 

(Read our Q&A with Lucy here)

In 2016 our heats generated both the eventual winner Kyle D Evans and the runner-up Jase Taylor. Kyle, a musical mathematician, has since gone on to become a familiar face on the comedy circuit and will performing two new shows at the Old Fire Station, Oxford in February next year.

Previous FameLab UK entrant and Oxford University physicist Francesca Day went on to create and perform a one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe. She says, “Taking part in FameLab was great fun. One of the most valuable aspects was receiving training and feedback from the judges.  It gave me the confidence to go on to develop and perform my own solo science comedy show for the Edinburgh Fringe, with invaluable support from Science Oxford.”

Last year, topics for the nerve-wracking heats included The Superhero Cell, The Physics of Race Cars, Vaccines served with Scrambled Flu and Jungle Remedies. Science broadcaster and astrophysicist Chris Lintott and eminent science writer Georgina Ferry were among the judges.

‘Naked Mathematician’ Tom Crawford performed his 3 minutes in a toga..  “I think the experience of being on stage in front of a live audience really is invaluable when it comes to ‘performing maths’ – and I say ‘performing’ because that’s now how I see it. Before I would be giving a lecture or a talk about maths, but now it’s a full-on choreographed performance, and I think taking part in FameLab really helped me to understand that.” Read our Q&A here about what he got out of the whole experience and what he’s up to now..

It’s an amazing competition and we want to encourage everyone who has ever thought of doing some science performance to SIGN-UP – including past entrants who’d like to give FameLab another go. To register, go to https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science/famelab/

The 2019 Oxford heats take place at St Aldates Tavern in Oxford on 12th and 13th February. The regional final will take place at the Wig and Pen, George Street, Oxford on 8th March 2019.

And you check out some past performances at https://scienceoxford.com/sci-comm/famelab/