Last week I competed in FameLab USA, a science communication contest sponsored by NASA and National Geographic. Each contestant gets 3 minutes, and only 3 minutes, to talk about research that interests them. No powerpoint, no graphs, just you, maybe a basic prop, and the audience.
Competing in FameLab was a fantastic experience! I placed in the top three in the San Francisco regional, so I may have a chance to go on to the US finals. I’ll post videos soon of my speeches, and I’m going to feature various aspects of FameLab in a series of blog posts, including guest bloggers than I met at the contest.
In this first post I feature an overview of the competition as an encouragement to all of you science communicators out there-you should enter! FameLab is truly international, with regional contests in over 20 countries. In the US, contests are generally associated with large scientific meetings. Topics in my regional varied widely, with several on astrobiology (the search for signs of life on other planets) and others on marine biology, such as the secret life of squid. The winner was a geologist who caught our attention with her rock-paper-scissors opening (spoiler: geologists always choose “rock”!).
Each talk was both informative and entertaining; a great mix sure to leave a lasting impression. No FameLab competition near you? You can submit a video for the online “regional”, or organize an unofficial event in your town. I may have my students give FameLab-style presentations about their research in my neuroscience class this spring. The possibilities are endless, and with only 3 minutes, they go by quickly!