Could a zombie apocalypse happen? Why do we dream? How far can technology take us?
Open their eyes and see what they find! This is the main driver behind the success of Cheltenham Festivals FameLab Academy competition that has run for 3 year in Gloucestershire. By giving pupils the opportunity to research and explore something they are really interested in, the motivation for learning is completely flipped on its head.
But this isn’t just about quirky subjects, this project is looking to open up the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to pupils and is supporting the drive to tackle the skills gap. The competition aims to develop students’ communications skills as well as their confidence.
Pupils have 3 minutes to present their topic with only a prop/demo they c
an carry onto ‘stage’. They are judged on their content, their clarity and their charisma. Over 3,000 pupils from 15 schools have taken part in Gloucestershire since it started in 2014.
At the start of the project the dialogue goes something like this:
Pupil: What shall I talk about?
Teacher: Whatever you like – find a topic that interests you.
Pupil: What anything, even if we are not learning about it in lessons?
Teacher: Yes, I am looking forward to learning something new too
Pupil: Can I do a PowerPoint?
Teacher: No sorry and you can’t have notes
Pupil: I will never be able to do that…..
Jump forward a couple of months after some resourced workshops and support from STEM Mentors from local businesses and “I can’t do it…” has disappeared. The highlight of the project for me isn’t actually the final, although that is amazing, but the going into the schools and seeing the enthusiasm and passion that has been sparked both in the science department and across the school by pupils and staff. But don’t take my word, here’s some of this year’s teachers feedback:
A fantastic opportunity to let students engage with STEM on a whole new level – just brilliant!
A very enjoyable, exciting and fantastic opportunity. Building relationships and supporting students in something other than science for exams and it has been a lot of fun!
FameLab Academy is fantastic, the pupils were engaged, it really improved the profile of science in school.
So could a zombie apocalypse happen? Well after exploration into this very subject including looking at viruses and parasites as part of her research, one FameLab Academy finalist now wants to studying biomedical science after her ‘A’ levels. Is this competition opening eyes and inspiring students to at least consider STEM careers – I think so!
Sharron Pearson, Education Manager, Cheltenham Festivals
FameLab Academy, is supported by EDF Energy. If you are a Gloucestershire Secondary school and would be interested in joining in the competition in 2017/18 you can find out more click here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org