<img alt=“Famelab logo.jpg” align=right src=“http://blogs.nature.com/houseofwisdom/images/Famelab%20logo.jpg” width=“280” height=“186” />
The second season of FameLab in Egypt came to an end yesterday in a large event held in the Cairo Opera House last night. The winners will be training to represent Egypt in the international leg of the competition, held in August during the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.
According to the organizers, this year’s competition saw a much greater number of applicants than last year. The contestants are tasked with presenting a scientific topic in a simple, accessible way that is easy to understand for a layperson audience in three minutes.
The room was completely packed with people who came to watch the 12 finalists make their presentations and to get a chance to vote on who walks away with the “audience prize.”
“After the revolution, I got a little bit pessimistic as I thought everyone was into politics now rather than science. Obviously, I was wrong,” said Mahmoud Abu Khedr, who won first place in the competition.
The varied presentations brought a mixed bag of interesting performances, with one contestant using a guitar and song while making his presentation, to another who drew analogues between the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and how the immune system on the body works.
Amr Salama, Egypt’s new minister for higher education and scientific research, presented the winners with their prizes, which included netbooks and blackberry phones. The winner also received a fully funded trip to attend all the Cheltenham Science Festival where the international leg of FameLab will also take place.
“I’m hoping the day would come when Egypt is organizing this international competition and the world will come to us to attend,” he said.
This year, in order to encourage more participation from students, the organizers added a special award for students. The best two presenters were selected to attend the International London Science Forum.
While the competition itself is an interesting endeavour to get people interested about science, I think the interesting part is how to capitalize on the skills taught and the talents discovered to increase science communication in Egypt. The organizers said they will be forming the “FameLab Club” which will bring together this year’s and last year’s FameLabers and encourage them to come up with ideas for science communication with the public. One of the organizers, the Research, Developmetn and Investment (RDI) programme promised to work with them on these ideas.