This afternoon, Westonbirt students from Year 9 took part in the school finals of FameLab Academy, having prepared for a number of weeks. FameLab is run in conjunction with the Cheltenham Science Festival and this afternoon six Year 9 pupils spoke for three minutes on a scientific topic of their choice, with no notes, before facing questions from a panel of judges. The audience was made up of students from Years 8 and 9 and we were lucky enough to be joined by three distinguished judges: Stem Mentor and Engineer from GE Aviation, Emma Bryan, Elspeth Kenny from Cheltenham Science Festival and Sam Antrobus, Executive Chairman of Wishford Schools.
The topics presented were:
What determines whether we are left or right-handed?
Why do we laugh?
Why do we have certain likes and dislikes?
Why do we love icecream?
Why can't some people remember their dreams?
How do emotion and reason interact when we make decisions?
The format of the competition is designed to develop the skills of scientific research, public speaking and communication and enables pupils to go well beyond the bounds of the curriculum in exploring a topic of their choice. Simon Balderson, Deputy Head (Academic) said;
"It is hugely impressive to be able to stand up in front of your peers and speak authoritatively on a topic, before being quizzed by a panel of judges. This kind of project, which draws upon a broad range of skills, combining scientific rigour with the ability to communicate effectively, fits perfectly with Westonbirt's broad, holistic approach to education and is an immensely worthwhile competition for our pupils to take part in."
Year 9 pupil, Ava, was declared as the winner with her presentation 'Why can't some people remember their dreams?' and now goes on to the Gloucestershire final, as part of the Cheltenham Science Festival. Ava also won £20, the opportunity to attend a two-day science communication workshop and a visit to Gloucestershire engineering firm, Renishaw.
Joint runners up, winning a £10 prize each were Lola and Chloe.