Referred to as the “Pop Idols of Science”, the British Council’s FameLab is one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world! I had been seeing this competition on social media for a few months since last year (2016). At first, I had very little information about what it was, but I knew it had something to do with talking about science. That is exactly what drew me in! I am very passionate about science and always want to talk about it, especially my own research. FameLab was the perfect opportunity to give me that platform. The competition would allow me to communicate my work in a sort of playful, humorous, but scientific manner while competing with other world-class researchers. I decided to take part and talk about the marine biological carbon pump!
The nerve wrecking first day of FameLab briefing.
The first day was so scary, I wanted to pull out. But because quitters never win and winners never quit, I went ahead with the mission. That afternoon I went home to plan by watching videos on the internet. The talk still lacked some content though and I had to approach my supervisor, Dr. Sarah Fawcett who added more weight and substance to my construction. Francois Majola from the UCT Chemistry Department helped me with the Bromothymol blue which gave life to my prop, “the ocean”. I finally had something viable to work with. The marvellous Professor Jane English mentored the group through voice training, speech preparations, presentation construction and just being amazing on stage. The big day arrived and it was a tight race!
Some of the contestants from the original 26 students that applied
All the contestants had come out guns blazing, with their best to deliver. I was LITERALLY shaking in my seat. However, as soon as I step in front, on that stage, I transform. The fright disappears and I still ask myself how that happens. I had practised a thousand times and almost every time I did something wrong, but on that stage, I become so fierce that I cannot even recognize myself. I somehow, amongst all that brilliance that was the UCT contestants made it to the finals.
The judges had given me some tips, specifically what to add, how to use my prop. All that valuable advice paid off because my chosen concept (The Marine Biological Carbon Pump), with the help of many people’s criticism and the pointing out of the superb parts of the presentation, became a runner-up in the entire competition. I have been responding with “thank you” to people congratulating me, ever since! I also have shed a few tears of joy when I come across articles written about Nyasha (Famelab winner) and ME. I did not realize that FameLab is this MASSIVE!