Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FameLab Academy - the final!

This year, I have been able to be a part of FameLab's launch of FameLab Academy in Gloucestershire. I have been on a training masterclass, been a mentor for Pate's Grammar School (visiting twice: 1 and 2) and had the scary experience of being a judge! Yesterday was the final of the competition. All of the twelve finalists had qualified via their school finals, been on a science communication masterclass, and had the opportunity to visit an engineering company. 

Before the final started, I had the chance to catch up with the other engineer mentors to find out how they had been working with their link schools and what other science communication activities they had been up to. I also spoke to the teacher I had been working with at Pates and found out that the student I had spoken to about Oxbridge interviews had been offered a place at Cambridge! I wonder whether any of those in my engineering introduction session will end up pursuing it as a career.

After an introduction from edf energy, who were hosting the event, the final began! What followed were 12 fantastic talks, on scientific and engineering topics ranging from how we handle pain to invisibility using octupuses (octupi?). I was impressed by the improvement I saw in the students I had mentored at Pate's, and the finalist we put through from St Edward's. There were some great props and demos, and I learnt a lot!

After all the students had spoken, Nick Harrigan (@sparrigan) gave us a fab demo on lightbulbs (yeah, I know - but it was actually interesting!). I never knew that you could use a gherkin instead of a filament, although it was a relief that said gherkin did not set off the fire alarm...

The judges: Ben Garrod (@ben_garrod), Louise Emerson from Cheltenham festivals and Ben Salisbury from edf had a tough job... 
After their deliberation, they awarded runners up prizes to Abi (Pittville School) and Lexie (from Pate's - wooo!!!) who spoke on living in space and the feasibility of swimming in syrup. The overall winner was Harry from The Cotswold School, who grabbed everyone's attention with his opening line of "Aphids SUCK" and then went on to discuss these tiny creatures, which I never realised were so interesting... The engineering prize went to Chris, from St Edward's whose enthusiasm for trains meant his talk on streamlining was gripping. 

A huge well done to all who competed - not just yesterday, but throughout the process. Also to Ali Mawle from Cheltenham festivals and her team who made the whole of FameLba academy happen so successfully. And thanks to edf, who made it possible for me and the other engineers to be a part of such an awesome competition!