3 Minute Wonder Final

12 June 2014

Members of the East Midlands branch recently came close to victory in the national final of the IOP’s 3 Minute Wonder competition.

Three Minute Wonder

Branch members Dave Farmer and Kyle Baldwin, both early career researchers at the University of Nottingham, were among 14 finalists who took up the challenge of explaining their research in three minutes to a general audience after having won or been runner up in the regional heats. The grand final was hosted by the Royal Institution on 15 May and held in its historic Faraday Theatre.

The talks were given marks out of 10 by each of four judges – author, journalist and TV producer Simon Singh; Solar scientist, writer and broadcaster Lucie Green; creative director of TV and science communications company Refinery Productions, Lindsay Keith; and science communicator and comic of Festival of the Spoken Nerd fame, Steve Mould. The contestants answered brief questions from the audience after their talks, and received immediate feedback from the judges.

Kyle discussed creating tektites (chunks of spinning rock flung for miles around asteroid impacts) using candle wax, a powerful magnet, and a somewhat messy demonstration of a ball landing in a vat of ketchup. The judges praised his delivery, particularly Steve Mould, who was excited to be able to take away his own wax tektite.

Dave’s talk was entitled  “The Joy of Hitting Things”. In it he described how his research involves using lasers to vibrate and measure the properties of polymers. The judges reacted favourably to Dave’s comedic style and he managed to win the runner up prize of £250, a trophy and an oversized, novelty cheque.

Commenting on the competition, Dave said, “It was a really interesting opportunity and a tough challenge to condense my research into three minutes.” He has expanded on these thoughts in a recent blog post. Kyle also added, “Talking at such an historic venue was an exhilarating experience. If I can enter again next year, I will.”.