BSU at FameLab 2016: Balloons, newspapers & misleading statistics in the media

BSU PhD student, Susan Connolly, gave a brilliant performance at the regional finals of FameLab 2016.

FameLab challenges scientists, engineers and mathematicians from across the globe with a passion for public engagement, to convey a scientific concept of their choice in just three minutes to a general public audience. Contestants are judged by a panel, including leading researchers, media experts, and science policy makers on the content, clarity and charisma of their presentation.

First year PhD student Susan, BBC Scriptroom 7 winner and author of children's book Damselwas, was one of ten regional finalists who had successfully made it through the Cambridge heats. For Susan's regional final performance, she chose to talk about the misuse of statistics in the media - a topic which many audiences can relate to. Susan made use of simple and effective props, including a newspaper to open her performance, quoting figures about scientific research in the news. She also used balloons to depict the misuse of statistics. The overall message that Susan portrayed was the importance of scientists communicating clearly when speaking to journalists. To be careful with the language they use in order to avoid exaggerated and misunderstood statistics in the media.

The panel of judges were impressed with Susan's performance, saying that the delivery of her message was "very clear" and it was "a great idea and an interesting topic".

Susan FameLabIt was fantastic that a statistical topic was part of the FameLab regional finals. Susan's participation and performance at FameLab has now inspired other BSU scientists to take part next year. So watch out FameLab, the statisticians will be coming and demonstrating that statistics is important, relevant and most of all, exciting.