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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Learning in Lockdown: Ask the Expert has Launched

By Caroline Francis, on 6 January 2021

As the country enters its third national lockdown and with schools set to be closed until February half-term or longer, we have an exciting new project to help students stay engaged with learning at home.

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‘Ask the Expert’ is a brand new project involving 57 members of UCL staff keen to offer up their knowledge and experience to answer questions put forward by secondary school students.  Onboard we have a wide range of experts with different interests and skill-sets in areas such as microbiology, philosophy, computer science, and much, much more.

With thanks to the help of pupils at Cardinal Pole Catholic School in Hackney, we were able to successfully pilot our new website and begin putting our experts to the test. As can be expected from young and curious minds we received questions that were both brilliant and profound such as, How did early eugenics affect racial equality, and how are those effects still felt today? and Could quantum gravity particles be made of antimatter, and travel in ways we can’t understand?

We also received some more practical questions about getting into university such as, How important are your GCSEs when applying to UCL ? and What is expected in a personal statement and interview when the course is in health and social care? 

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This term, we are launching the project to schools across east London, and further afield. With the announcement of further school closures this project will aid students in home learning and provide a space to channel their curiosity. During this difficult period, we want to encourage them to continue thinking creatively and inquisitively about all sorts of things from life’s greatest mysteries, to subjects they are passionate about, as well as things that are relevant to their lives right now.

If you know a young person (aged 11-18) who might be interested in the project, please do encourage them to ask something. No question is a silly question!

If you are a member of staff at UCL and are interested in getting involved in the project, please leave a comment below and a member of our team will get back to you by email. We would especially like to hear from staff that are able to broaden the scope of expertise represented on the project.

Ask the Expert has been developed by Emma Bryant (Schools Engagement Manager) and Caroline Francis (Community Engagement and Public Art Associate), and the website designed by Anne Coquin from UCL Communications and Marketing. 

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