FameLab is an exciting competition aimed at discovering talented science communicators.
It is one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world.
You know when you are watching a science story on the news, and the presenter turns to an expert and asks, “What does it mean? What does it do?”.
That expert could be you!
Effective science communication which engages people outside the scientific community allows scientists:
- to alter stereotypes
- to enthuse people about their work and science in general, and
- to justify their use of public funding.
What are you waiting for?
Enter the competition
Are you working or studying in science and engineering?
If you are aged over 18 and think you can explain a scientific concept in just three minutes, you could win some fantastic prizes.
To enter, send us a video.
This will be you, live, explaining a scientific concept, in just three minutes. You can decide the topic, but make sure the presentation is less than three minutes.
The quality and format of the video isn’t important - but it must give the jury an idea of what the presentation will be like when you perform it live. You can use props - but only if you can carry them on to the stage with you. No PowerPoint allowed!
The Heats and Finals
The regional heats are the first steps in the FameLab adventure. Dazzling the jury ensures you a place in the following stages of the competition, where you can reach the national final after attending a Communication Masterclass.
The Masterclass (see below), run by some of the best science communicators in the world, is one of the biggest prizes for all FameLab finalists.
In the Finals, you will now be able to beat your fellow competitors and represent your country in the international FameLab finals. These take place in the United Kingdom during the Cheltenham Science Festival, normally in June.
The overall national winner will attend the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK and compete in the FameLab International Final. Here a world of opportunities will really be opened up as you network with fellow scientists from across the globe
In 2019 all public universities and the Portuguese Catholic University were involved in FameLab, with all but the Universidade Aberta organizing regional heats in close collaboration with local Ciência Viva Centres.
Get a taste of what happens at a FameLab Masterclass
Judges’ top tips
The judges are looking for somebody who can shine in content, clarity and charisma.
The content of the presentations must be scientifically accurate. If the topic chosen has controversy or uncertainty around it, then the presentation must acknowledge the opposing views. The scientific topic presented should be well chosen to suit the audience.
Clarity is critical for effective science communication. The structure of the presentation must enable the audience and judges to easily follow the talk and they should be left with a full understanding of the scientific concept chosen.
The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it.
Top 10 tips
- Think about the beginning and the end - Hook us at the start, and then give us a satisfying ending that leaves us feeling we’ve had a complete journey (it’s nice if it brings the beginning back in some way, but that’s not the only way to end).
- Don’t try to copy somebody else’s style - Go with what works for you.
- Make sure there’s enough science in there - We can learn a lot in three minutes if you tell it well.
- Tell us something you’re excited about… - ...your enthusiasm will shine through.
- Let go of the PowerPoint safety net - Printing your slides onto a t-shirt or, worse, laminated bits of paper reduces you from 3 to 2 dimensions.
- Be in the moment - Acknowledging what’s happening right here, right now (even if it’s something going wrong!) keeps us engaged – and shows you’re confident enough to cope.
- Don’t overdo your introduction - You need to set a scene, give us a moment to grasp who you are and lead into your subject, sure. But you need to do all of that quickly! You haven't really started until the introduction is behind you – keep it punchy.
- Know where you’re going - However much you've slaved over the individual words of your performance, make sure you know the waymarks too: the bullet-points that keep you on track. There are probably around five of them, and the last one will usually be your last line. If that's fixed in your mind then no matter how many of your carefully-honed lines fall apart, you still know how you're going to finish. So that's one less distraction.
- “What will they talk about later?” - What's your piece about? You need to be able to answer that in, say, ten words. Those words need to work when prefixed with "Did you know…" or "I heard this amazing thing today…". Give people memorable nuggets they can use as social currency, it's the best way of spreading ideas around.
- Think theatrically - The impact of a prop can be changed by how it's introduced - is it carried on, picked up, or revealed? Similarly, you can trail your finale, tease it, or reveal it from an unexpected direction. There's no right or wrong here, you have to choose what best suits you and your story. But make sure you choose rather than just letting it happen
Previous winners of FameLab Portugal share their experiences