FameLab is a communications competition designed to engage and entertain by breaking down science, technology and engineering concepts into three minute presentations. Contestants from around the world take part armed only with their wits and a few props, the result of which is an unpredictable and exciting way to encourage one's curiosity and find out about the latest research. This April, British Council hosted the national gala round of the first Famelab in Bangladesh at its University of Dhaka premises, where twelve participants from across the country came together to communicate their passion for science.
Dr Timothy Green, who recently completed a PhD in Astrophysics, and will soon be joining the British Council as the technical lead of a project teaching computer programming within libraries across Bangladesh, was a judge at this competition. He says, “As a judge, I was looking for contestants who could communicate a scientific concept in an engaging and understandable way. The finalists chose topics which were relatable to the audience and demonstrated great charisma in how they presented them.”
Star Youth spoke to some of the finalists about their presentations.
Sarah Umaymah Mahdiyah, a third-year student of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology from Dhaka University, talked about diabetes at the final round. She says, “My father is diabetic, and he has a very carefree attitude about it. So, I was motivated to bring this issue to the forefront.” Lifestyle choices like keeping a balanced diet and regular exercise plays a large role in averting diabetes – just giving up sweets is not the solution. These were some of the messages Sarah tried to convey. Sarah, who is particularly interested in public health, wants to spend her time working for the greater good and raising awareness about different health issues.
On the other hand, Fahmida Khanam Raha, a second-year student of Biochemistry from Dhaka University, chose artificial intelligence versus human power as her topic. Her presentation included interacting with Siri, the virtual assistant part of Apple Inc. She focused on the many impacts of artificial intelligence in the current world and the future. Fahmida says that taking part in this competition has made her a more confident person. She adds, “I hope more competitions like FameLab are arranged at a national level – I personally learned a lot.”
Alvee Islam, fourth-year student of EEE from North South University, was crowned the winner. His presentation was about neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form and reorganise synaptic connections, especially in response to learning. In his presentation, Alvee incorporated a ukulele to show the connection between music training and neuroplasticity. He explains, “If I learn a rhyme on the ukulele, I will forget everything the next day. But if I practice it for the next five months, it will be transferred into my long-term memory.” Alvee further says that FameLab provided him a platform for public speaking, which is something he really likes. He was also one of the 2018 finalists for FameLab International, which was held in Cheltenham, England.