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Academics and experts from across the UK are contributing to a new online resource designed to inspire young people during the current national lockdown. Lockdown Learn has been created so that teachers and support workers can request help with remote and virtual learning as they try to strike a balance between classroom teaching and home schooling.
It features a range of recorded videos, talks and presentations from scientists across the UK which are aligned to the National Curriculum.
However, there is also the option – currently reserved for teachers – of arranging live interactive classes or Q&A sessions from groups of children.
The project is the brainchild of Dr Natasha Stephen, Lecturer in Advanced Analysis (Earth & Planetary Sciences) and Director of the Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre at the University of Plymouth.
Following the lockdown announcement on January 4, she tweeted an offer to support teachers again faced with the prospect of virtual and remote learning.
It has since been seen by more than 700,000 people having been retweeted more than 300 times, including by comedian and TV presenter Dara O’Briain, and liked almost 800 times.
That meant within 24 hours of the tweet being posted, Dr Stephen had received more than 150 requests for classes on the Solar System alone. And by the end of the week, she had more than 50 other experts signed up to help prepare and deliver content, including arts and humanities subjects, law and social justice, medicine, engineering, and politics.
The current range of topics can be viewed on a newly launched Lockdown Learn website that will be added to as more content becomes available. In its first six hours, the website was viewed more than 1,000 times, with access from 23 countries across five continents.
The project also has a dedicated Twitter account through which experts can volunteer to help out and teachers can request talks or sessions on particular topics.

Dr Stephen, whose own research focuses on the use of meteorites to study the geology of extra-terrestrial bodies throughout the solar system, said:

“When the third national lockdown was announced, I decided I wanted to do something to help teachers and students who have already faced some very challenging months.
"I used to teach GCSE and A level geology and geography part-time, so know how much it can take to prepare new content, and was seeing friends and colleagues struggle with teaching and home-schooling so wanted to help.

Dr Natasha Stephen
Dr Natasha Stephen

“I never anticipated it would take off as it has, but it has been great to see so many people supporting the idea in any way they can. There is already a range of content on the website and more will be added over the coming days and weeks that will hopefully give people some new topics to focus on, but all linked with the National Curriculum. My hope is to create a real resource of information that can help teachers both now and in the future as well.”

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