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Sleepless in Shanghai – the X-Factor dream arrives in China


Sleepless in Shanghai – the X-Factor dream arrives in China

British academics and experts make up the Dream Lab team (left to right) – Donna Loveday, Design Museum, London, Professor Nick Petford, Bournemouth University, Professor Catherine McDermott, Kingston University, London, Professor Tim Molloy, Science Museum, London, James Peto, The Wellcome Trust. Credit: Tim HawkinsInspired by TV talent shows, the Dream Lab challenge will be launched this month in China by Kingston University and the British Council in conjunction with London's Science Museum, The Design Museum, The Wellcome Trust and Bournemouth University.

Art and design students from Chinese colleges and universities will be asked to communicate the science of sleeping and dreaming - anything from jet lag to the physical and psychological effects of night-working - and to use their creative skills to present it in a visually entertaining and informative way. The five lucky 'Dream Teams' making it to the shortlist will present their ideas live on stage in an X-Factor style final at the prestigious San Li Tun village development in Beijing at the end of November, to a judging panel made up of the British Dream Lab team and Chinese academics and experts in science, art and design.

"We chose the science of sleep because it crosses all cultures - it's something that everyone experiences," Professor Catherine McDermott, of Kingston University's School of Communication Design and the lead academic on the project, said. "It's so important that we communicate scientific ideas to the public and engage their interest, and art and design is a good way to do this. This inspiring challenge should really grab the students' attention."

The science of sleeping and dreaming is the focus of an X-Factor style art and design talent contest. Credit: Education UK/British CouncilThe Dream Lab challenge, pioneered by Kingston University, will be rolled out in Chinese universities and colleges later this month. Professor McDermott hopes that other countries might follow, further strengthening Kingston University's international profile. "The creation of interdisciplinary design project briefs is something we know how to do really well at Kingston," Professor Mc Dermott added. "It has placed our design courses at the forefront of UK education, and we warmly welcome our Chinese partners to work with us on Dream Lab. We promise a great experience."

Teams of up to six students will be given online help to develop their ideas by science and design professionals from the UK institutions, and in October a shortlist of five teams will be drawn up. All institutions that reach the final will be eligible to nominate a student for one of five specially-developed Dream Lab Scholarships to enable students to come to the UK to study full-time. A package of scholarships worth £40,000 has been offered by Kingston University and Bournemouth University to be divided among five talented students for the 2010 academic year.

There will be prizes for the winning team and its institution, including a one-week visit to the UK. The Chinese team will visit museums and universities - including Kingston - to meet academics and see at first-hand some of their exciting work and research.

Developed in conjunction with the British Council's Education Marketing Team, Dream Lab will ask participants to practise and demonstrate many of the skills required by employers in the 21st century, including teamwork; using ideas from different disciplines to bring about innovation; creative thinking; communications and marketing. The Dream Lab web site provides further information about the challenge, profiles the UK experts involved in developing it and their institutions, and will provide news and updates on teams and results.

Pat Killingley, Director, Higher Education and Education UK at the British Council, said: "Dream Lab offers students an exciting way of experiencing what it's like to study with UK universities and to see at first hand the innovation that is such a characteristic of the UK's educational output. Furthermore, Dream Lab provides great potential for UK and Chinese institutions to work together on this project and also to make connections that are sustainable and mutually beneficial for the long-term."

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