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Famelab – Cheltenham Science Festival hosts international science communication competition


Contributed by Lucy Feilen, Communications Manager HP Labs Bristol


HP Labs is not only the leading technology sponsor of the Cheltenham Science Festival, Europe’s largest festival of science and technology, but HP Labs also had over 30 employees involved in different activities at this year’s festival which ran from June 3-8 in the historic English spa town of Cheltenham.


Famelab is a science communication competition which aims to help young people develop their skills to communicate their research not just with their peers but more broadly with society at large. Famelab began at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2005 in conjunction with NESTA, and has since grown into the world’s leading science communication competition. The competition is supported by the British Council and NASA, with over 5000 young scientists and engineers participating in over 23 different countries. The competition has led to many competitors’ furthering their career in media from TV to radio, while continuing to play active roles in scientific research.


The competition hosted at Cheltenham Science festival on June 7th, saw eleven finalists battle it out to become the new voice of science communication. Quentin Cooper, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s weekly The Material World, and physicist and Festival Director Kathy Sykes oversaw the judging with the top prize of an HP Envy X2 awarded to the winner.


Each contestant had three minutes to impress the judges with a science, technology, mathematics or engineering based talk using only the props they can carry on stage. Contestants are then scored on their content, clarity and charisma.


The winner was Irish competitor and environmental scientist Fergus McAuliffe. Fergus’s talk was about the wood frog, how it is able to withstand the cold, and maintain a state of cardiac arrest for weeks during winter. Fergus believes that scientists can learn from this natural process in order to create new ways of storing organs before transplants. Watch Fergus McAuliffe’s FameLab talk:



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