Westonbirt School student wins Cheltenham Festivals’ FameLab Academy 2019


Arwen Borthwick-Hunter from Westonbirt School won the FameLab Academy prize as the county’s best young science communicator yesterday (21 March) with a talk on “self- medicating animals”. Runners up were Maya Hall from Wyedean School who referenced Star Wars in her talk on VTOLs (vertical take off and landing aircraft) and Bethany Brown from Chosen Hill School who posed the question: “Do fish get thirsty?”

Year 9 students from fourteen Gloucestershire schools competed in FameLab Academy organised by Cheltenham Science Festival. This academic year, over 1900 students took part in the competition. Supported by their teachers and STEM mentors, students have just three minutes to explain a scientific topic of their choice to a panel of judges who adjudicate their presentations based on their content, clarity and charisma.

Arwen said: “I have gained so much confidence through taking part in FameLab Academy and I have also made some great new friends.” Her prize was a telescope for herself and £250 for her school. The two runners up received £75 worth of STEM books. All the finalists received a £25 Cheltenham Festival voucher to encourage them to attend events and activities at the Science Festival in June.

Ali Mawle, Director of Education at Cheltenham Festivals said: “FameLab Academy brings science into the everyday; students see that STEM research and careers are relevant, within their reach and fun too!”

Bob Fenton, Head of Communications at EDF said: “Famelab Academy is a great competition, one that helps young people develop a whole range of skills. It is incredibly inspiring to watch the students perform; I doubt that there are many adults who could deliver often complicated subjects so articulately. EDF is delighted to support Cheltenham


Arwen Borthwick-Hunter (above)

Science Festival and FameLab Academy to inspire over 1900 young people to achieve these extraordinary standards of presentation.”

Each school was matched with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Mentor trained in public engagement who visited the school and worked with students. The finalist from each school received a two-day Communication Masterclass, a work placement in a local STEM company and entry into the Gloucestershire final.

STEM mentors were supporting from EDF, Kohler Mira, Renishaw, Hartpury University, QA, Corvid Ultra Electronics, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Rencol, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the NHS.