Science competition combines smarts and entertainment

Four George Mason University students were pitted against each other in an effort to win a $500 prize as part of the Science Slam held by the College of Science and Auxiliary Enterprise Management Council last Friday at Research Hall.

Four scientists delivered impassioned presentations on the topics of micro lensing, slum identification, hydrogel nanoparticles, and neutrophils. The four competitors were tasked with presenting a scientifically sound project to an unfamiliar audience, which they assumed to have no scientific background. With only ten minutes of time, each individual explained detailed points of their academic research, couched in lighthearted plea for audience attention.

Slam president Iqra Kapadia explained the event as a merger of performance and lecture, favoring the presenters’ ability to “entertain” the audience over their ability to deliver scientific jargon.

“[The event is to] provide an environment for people within the College of Science, from different departments to interact [and] improve science communication,” said Science Slam Treasurer Dana McCoskey

Communication skills were stressed at the event. Ron Mahabir, the winner of the Science Slam used simple language to explain the possibilities of geo-informational science. The event hinged on a presenter’s ability to disburse facts in a cohesive and entertaining matter.

The initial presenter, Ryan Pfeifle, seemed to strike the balance between clever anecdotes and grounded facts, but each presenter varied in style. The term slam is commonly used in poetry readings, where audience satisfaction is represented by snapping their fingers to the poet. At the Science Slam, points were tallied by an audience participation gauge, which, coupled with judge’s evaluations, and a smartphone-based poll determined the success of the presenters.

Jacqueline Shaia and Juliana Moskowitz came in second place. They discussed the details in which neutrophils gathered in the nasal cavity may be used to determine.

Between rounds, the hosts raffled prizes from the College of Science and doled out as many science puns as one could handle in a two hours time. Overall, the atmosphere was genial and the audience participated willingly.

The second Science Slam will be on March 27 and the Grand Slam competition will be on May 1.

Photo credit: Mason Building Website