From Nerf Guns to Nano-machines – it's just the IoP's national 3MW competition!

10 January 2018 | Source: From Nerf Guns to Nano-machines – it's just the IoP's national 3MW competition!

The Institute of Physics' national 3 Minute Wonder (3MW, #3MWFinal) science communication competition returned in 2017 with the London and South East (LSE) heat, hosted by the IOP LSE branch (@IOPLSE), being held on the 29th November 2017 at Portland Place, London.

3 Minute Wonder challenges researchers in physics, or a physics-related field, to explain their work in just three minutes; each participant pitching their research to a panel of established science communicators and, this year, an interested but non-specialist, mulled-wine infused, audience! More details about the competition can be found on our web page.

Competition organiser and co-founder Mark Telling (STFC, IoP VP (membership)) stated: "3MW is not only a great celebration of early career physics–related academic and industrial research across the UK and Ireland, but also unites our many IoP committees, groups and members by giving us a national project on which to collaborate. In addition, the insight and feedback about the art of science communication provided by our judging panels proves invaluable and allows the contestants to develop as confident science communicators"

The judging panel consisted of Liz Avery (Royal Observatory, Greenwich and founder of the Presenter Network), Joe Spencer (DSTL and winner of the 2016 3MW Grand Final), Alan Davies (Professor (mathematics), Herts and the Royal Institution) and Louise Swan (Head of IOP Outreach and Engagement). This year also saw the introduction of the Audience Prize, which encouraged audience participation by enabling the general public to choose their champion.

This year's highly entertaining presentations focused on research topics ranging from tomography as illustrated using a Nerf gun (… a what!) to a three minute demonstration of gravitational waves! The competition was hotly contested, with the winner, Chris Bloomer (Diamond Light Source) , transforming into diamond to explain how this amazing material may make an exceptional radiation sensor and runner-up , Hannah Sargeant (Open University‏), using a beach ball to illustrate how we may one day harvest water from moon rocks! The audience's champion was Megan Engel (Oxford) whose talk focussed on the assembly of cellular nano-machines

Chris and Hannah will be invited to compete again on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 (Royal Institution) in the Grand Final against winners from all the other IoP 3MW regional competitions.

Congratulations to both and thank you all. Mark

The contestants (left to right) were: Francesca Troiani (Imperial College), Hannah Sargeant (Open University), Peter Griffin (Cambridge), Sonali Mohapatra (Sussex), Megan Engel (Oxford), Chris Bloomer (DLS, Warwick), Sammie Buzzard (UCL) and Anne Callow (Oxford)

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