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FameLab South Africa, February 2014

FameLab is a fantastic worldwide public speaking + science competition, which debuted in South Africa last year. I was a judge the first time around, and came back this year to shoot some photos. These are from the regional heat in Gauteng (one of SA's 9 provinces, and home to Pretoria and Johannesburg), on February 8, 2014. 10 competitors gave 3-minute talks about science (stellar evolution, iris recognition, Higgs boson, regenerated body parts, etc.) in front of a panel of judges and live audince. The best came back in the afternoon for another 3-minute talk. SA finalists from Gauteng and across South Africa will go to Scifest in Grahamstown in April, and then the winner from that flies to the UK.

Congratulations to everyone who participated!

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MC Daryl Ilbury (SAASTA) starts off the morning with a quick run-down of the program at Sci-Bono.

The Competition: Cornelis van Niekerk

Cornelis Van Niekerk heads to the stage to discuss lasers.
Props can be an important part of the talks!
Afterwards, Cornelis gives a quick interview.

Jide Olu Ade-Ibijola

Abejide ('Jide') Olu Ade-Ibijola is a PhD student at Wits.

Gugu Mabuza

Gugulethu ('Gugu') Mabuza talks about iris recognition
No, she's not sharing her credit cards, but talking about how biometrics can reduce the number of cards carried around.
Gugu answers a few questions from MC Daryl.
And then to a few questions from the (highly entertained) judging panel.

Cameron de Bruyn

Cameron de Bruyn starts off by talking about the dangers of dagga.

Celeste Johnson

Celeste Johnson loves imaginary numbers.

Kirsty Sanders

Kirsty Sanders:

Isobel Kolbe

Isobel Kolbe, University of Pretoria.
Isobel and her Higgs Boson (shown larger than actual size).
Isobel and the Heisenberg uncertainty ruler.


Ansunya, University of Pretoria.
Ansunya discusses stellar evolution. The computer is for a sound clip of a supernova explosion. No Power Point allowed at FameLab!


Muhammed decided to enter FameLab the night before, courtesy of his cousin and fellow competitor, Ahmed. But now he's ready to talk about banded-iron formations and the early Earth.

Ahmed Seedat

Ahmed Seedat (Wits) is a repeat competitor from FameLab SA 2013, where he made it to the national finals in Grahamstown. Here, he talks about 3D printing of body part replacements.

Judges and Staff

Judges Sarah Wild (Mail & Guardian science writer) and Elize Venter (National Zoological Gardens).
Judge Gladys Magagula runs spacecraft at SANSA.
Judge Michael Ellis runs the Sci-Bono Discovery Center, a huge and beautiful science museum in the remnants of an old power plant in downtown Johannesburg.
Robert Inglis runs Jive Media Africa, which puts on FameLab in South Africa.
Remo Chipatiso from the British Council, which runs FameLab internationally.
And the video guys!

A Break from Competition

Check out that iris!
Ansunya does some last-minute prep.
Lunch break! Each contestant gave one talk in the morning, and the semi-finalists came back for another talk in the afternoon.
Celeste's support group.
Sindi is the master of the vuvuzela. Don't go over time: it blows at three minutes!
Malcolm leads the AV crew.
AV guys get recharged.
Waiting for the results...

Group Shots

All ten contestants. This year FameLab SA had seven regional heats, with Gauteng among them.
And the five finalists are headed to Scifest in Grahamstown, SA. Of those, one winner will be chosen to go to the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.
Thank you judges and organizers! Missing here are Remo and Robert -- off busy fixing something.

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Henry Throop

Last modified Fri Mar 7 22:39:45 2014