The British Council in Cairo connected in a virtual roundtable event on 25 February FameLab alumnus and this year’s FameLab finalists with journalists to create a conversation around science to keep laymen connected to the environment they live in and remain aware of the impact of science communications on our day-to-day decisions and well-being.
Among the speakers were five ‘FameLab’ Alumni. Doctor Marianne Azer, member of the Egyptian parliament; Abdullah Anan, founder of The Science Street YouTube channel; Mohamed Soliman, science communications officer at the AUC; Tarek Abdel-Ghany, Newton Mosharafa scholar, teacher assistant, and PhD student at New Castle University in the UK; and Marina Gerges, quality control analyst and founder of the ‘Kidzstein’ team to teach science to kids in under privileged communities.
The 12th edition of the FameLab competition will take place on 13 March 2021, where seven Egyptian finalists will use their science communications skills to explain their chosen scientific concept.
Participants will have three minutes to win over the judges and audience with a scientific talk that excels for its content, clarity, and charisma.
The event will be streamed live on the British Council’s Facebook page.
Since 2007, the British Council has partnered with the Cheltenham Science Festival in managing the science communications competition ‘FameLab’, strongly positioning itself as a cultural organisation fostering science communication in Egypt and around the world.
Scientists contribute to the development of society, and science communication has the opportunity to increase funding to research in many areas.
For instance, Abdel-Ghany unequivocally utilised his science communications skills and succeeded in securing PhD research funding from the Newton-Mosharafa programme.
Now, Abdel-Ghany is filling the position of teaching assistant at New Castle University in the UK and completing his PhD.
In every country, three pillars are of paramount importance: science, research, and innovation. They represent significant drivers of attractiveness for the country in the eyes of people overseas and can reposition countries as well.
Meanwhile, Azer uses her science communications skills to promote dialogue and openness between scientific people and laymen, accentuating the importance of increasing public engagement into different areas to include political engagement.
As science is always catered to people who are already interested in the subject, Anan, using effective science communications skills, presents science through people who the audience can relate to.
Anan used a common figure of rhetoric and created for himself a new space in the edutainment field, opening opportunities for other young Egyptians with science communications skills to increase their employability.
Crowding out of other regular jobs, Soliman shaped a new role around science communications.
After excelling in the FameLab competition, Soliman was nominated to be the first holder of a Science Communications officer job at the AUC. He is working on several projects to break the wall between science and society.
“FameLab brings universities a framework for broader skills development for their researchers, recognising the importance and value of public engagement with an international perspective. It supports internationalisation at home and helps to increase public trust in science,” said Director of the British Council in Egypt Elizabeth White.
“I read that the origin of the word ‘science’ is Latin and means knowledge, we can build on how by definition and people’s perception it forms also trust and credibility.”
“And in today’s scene of misinformation and ambiguity, we aim to continue our commitment in fostering science communications through digital transformation, policy making, have our contribution to topics like the pandemic and climate change — being top science projects of the decade,” White continued.
Gerges, on the other hand, figured out that the interests of the child are of paramount importance. She founded the ‘Kidzstein team’ that can extend the reach of science communications to include more non-scientific people in the conversation.
Knowing that many children do not search actively for science, Gerges said she can utilise her science communications skills to open a dialogue with young future scientists.