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Story | Research
9 July 2020

Global science competition hosted by QF and British Council brings out the best in Qatar’s students


Competition highlights importance of science communication

Ideas inspired by everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to science fiction have been outlined by finalists in one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world, as it took place in Qatar for the fifth time.

The national final of FameLab – organized by the British Council and Qatar Foundation member Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), and supported by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education – saw 21 participants given free rein to choose their own topic and present a scientifically-proven idea to a public audience in the space of just three minutes.

FameLab has taught me an important lesson in life, which is that success isn’t easily achieved

Ahmed Al Maani

Topics in this year’s final ranged from genetic disorders to invisibility cloaks, while the ongoing pandemic also influenced the choice of presentation, with some focusing on virology, while others centered on managing mental wellbeing.

Third-time participant Ahmed Al Maani, from Qatar Science and Technology Secondary School, was awarded first place in the adults category and will now represent Qatar at the international finals at Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK. “FameLab has taught me an important lesson in life, which is that success isn’t easily achieved,” he said.

The fifth edition of the FameLab national finals was hosted by the Britsh Council and Qatar National Research Fund.

“I had to persevere to achieve my goal of reaching the FameLab final in Cheltenham. I participated for three years in a row, and now I have finally succeeded and achieved my goal.”

Ahmed’s talk focused on the topic of human chimerism, an extremely rare genetic disorder where the affected human carries two sets of DNA – that means one person carrying the code to make two separate humans. This often causes two distinct types of colorings on different halves of the same person, such as two different-colored eyes. Only about 100 or so cases of chimerism have been recorded in modern medical literature.

Participants had three minutes to present a scientifically-proven idea to judges and the audience.

Abdul Saboor Saeed from Qatar University won second place in the adults category. In the students’ category, Ahmed Walid Rabiea from Doha Secondary School won first place, Omar Mohammed from Al Zubara School claimed second place, and third place went to Dalal Al Suwaidi from Al Bayan School.

This pandemic has further highlighted the importance of impactful science communication and how crucial it is to invest in the communication skills of our young researchers and scientists

Dr. Aisha Al-Obaidly

Speaking about the importance of science communication, Dr. Aisha Al-Obaidly, Capacity Building Director, QNRF, said “One of the most important aspects of the work done by scientists and researchers is how they communicate it and its outcomes, especially in times like this, where it is imperative that complex scientific information is communicated to the public in a simple and effective manner.

“This pandemic has further highlighted the importance of impactful science communication and how crucial it is to invest in the communication skills of our young researchers and scientists”.

Judges ran the rule over the presentation of ideas from 21 finalists, chosen from almost 300 contestants.

Sam Ayton, Director of the British Council Qatar, said: “Being able to talk about science, explain science, and make science relevant to young people and to engage their interest is a skill that is important in order to ensure the commitment and success of Qatar’s next generation of young scientists.”

Almost 300 contestants took part in this year’s FameLab competition in Qatar. FameLab runs in 31 countries around the world, and since its inception in 2005, over 7,000 people working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have taken part.

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