3 minute wonder

31 May 2016

Ten finalists competed in the live final of the IOP’s national science communication competition on Thursday 5 May at the Royal Institution.

3 Minute Wonder challenges participants from physics-related fields (industry or academia) to explain their original research to the public in just three minutes. Pitches are scored by a panel of four experts, who judge participants on their ability to communicate their work to the non-specialist audience. Points are awarded for physics content, presentation skill, level of engagement and entertainment value.

Having made it past the regional competitions, ten early career researchers from across the country competed in this year’s grand final at the Royal Institution in London. The judging panel consisted of four science communication experts from a range of professions: Maggie Philbin (radio/television presenter and CEO TeenTech), Fran Scott (science presenter, CBBC), Marek Kukula (public astronomer at Royal Observatory, Greenwich) and Helen Thomas (executive producer, BBC Science).

The winner of the 2016 final was Joe Spencer, a PhD student from the Nanomaterials Group at Southampton University. He described his work in making nanoscale wires just one or two atoms across, and explained that this method of construction can lead to materials having different properties from their macroscale forms. Both the panel and the audience voted Spencer’s talk the best, and he was commended for both his clarity and his humour.

Finalist and South West runner up Elisabeth Matthews said, "It was great fun to compete in, and I was pretty happy with my scores from the judges, even though I didn't end up in the top two! Definitely keen to do more science communication in the future following on from this competition."

Neil Dennis-Purves, Chairman of the South West Branch, said, "You are following in the footsteps of many great scientists who have spoken at the Royal Institution. The more presentations you give, the easier it gets!"

Winner of the South West heat Jayesh Goyal replied, "I became very nervous and started speaking a bit fast (footsteps of many great scientists made me more nervous!). But overall it was a great experience and as you rightly said, it might become easier with more experience.”

Congratulations to all those who competed.