What's it all about?

Science. Technology. Engineering. Maths. Medicine. Fascinating subjects to learn, but not always the easiest of subjects to talk about. But that’s the idea behind FameLab – an annual competition that’s sponsored by the British Council and held as part of the Cheltenham Festivals (science, not horses) every year.

Entrants have three minutes to explain a science concept in a unique and entertaining way. It’s not about dumbing it down so a two-year-old could understand it; it’s about bringing it to life in a way that makes people want to love it. Since it started in 2005 the competition has taken off, and it’s now held in over 25 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Fancy being the new voice of science? Then find out more.

What is FameLab?

FameLab is a training programme in a competition format to get people talking about science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. A bit like X-Factor, really, but with a slightly more intelligent slant to it. There are four basic stages: regional heats, regional final, masterclass, and national final, with the eventual winners being invited to travel to the UK and participate in the Cheltenham Science Festival.

Applicants have three minutes to present a concept from their field of study to a panel of judges. Make it funny, make it dramatic, make it jaw-dropping, eye-opening, lightbulb-poppingly brilliant. It’s entirely up to how creative you’re feeling. The judges are looking for somebody who can shine in content, clarity and charisma (in other words it has to be scientifically accurate, clear to understand and presented with a wink and a smile).

What can I win?

Although FameLab is possibly more about the prestige than it is the prize, there are still prizes depending on the country you compete in. The UK winner receives £1000 cash prize and £750 to spend on a science communication activity. All participants that make it to a national final will receive an expenses-paid private masterclass before the finals.

Where is it held?

National Famelab heats take place across Latvia and Estonia, and the final competition takes place in Cheltenham, UK.

What are the rules?

The first rule of FameLab is that you only have three minutes. Other rules that you might need to know about are:

  • it must be about a science, engineering or maths-based topic
  • you may not use PowerPoint
  • props are limited to what you can carry on stage (there is no time for set up)
  • video entries must not use special effects
  • if you make it through the heats to the local final you will need a second presentation (which can be on the same topic, but must be demonstrably different in content).

Important dates and places

Registration for Famelab Estonia and Latvia closed on 4 July 2016. The 10 best candidates from Estonia and Latvia have now been selected and they will receive training from expert UK trainers in an exclusive two-day intensive master class taking place in August.

These finalists will take part in the Estonian-Latvian final competition in 30 September at the Science Centre AHHAA on 30 September. 

How do I find out more?

Please send any questions you may have to our parters at the Science Centre AHHAA: tof@ahhaa.ee

What do participants say?

"The scientific subject I chose is about microscopy, how it works and why it is so important to observe ultra-small features of materials and atomic force microscopy. It will be the story about the resolution beyond our sight."

Liga Grase, PhD student

"I studied physiology, endocrinology and behavior of the dog. I would like to show how our everyday objects affect animals differently than us humans."

Madara Nikolajenko, Undergraduate student