Introducing the Longitude Explorer Prize Judges

  • Maddy Kavanagh

    Maddy Kavanagh

    Programme Manager, Longitude Explorer Prize

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We know that young people across the UK are passionate about helping improve the world around them, and we can’t wait to see what ideas they submit across our themes of Living Longer, Living Together, Living Greener and Living Better. The Longitude Explorer Prize will help teams turn their ideas into a reality, while developing their skills across a huge range of areas including STEM, business, team work, communication and analysis. 

With the application deadline for Longitude Explorer Prize fast approaching (Friday 29th November), the team recently announced the judges; an expert panel who’ll use their real life and professional experience to help shortlist the finalists in March 2020 and eventual winners of the competition in July 2020. 

Meet the judges 

The judging panel have a range of personal experience and expertise which makes them perfectly placed to judge this tough competition and include a computer scientists and a Dragon from the BBC show Dragons’ Den. You can read more about the judges in their bios, or keep reading to hear from Mark Martin and Liz Williams on what they’re looking out for! 

  • Piers Linney, entrepreneur and ex-Dragons Den panel member
  • Elena Sinel, Founder Teens in AI
  • Liz Williams MBE, Digital Society Director, BT Group
  • Sue Black OBE, Computer Scientist 
  • Peter Bloomfield, Senor AI/Machine Learning Policy & Research Manager, Digital Catapult 
  • Mark Martin MBE, aka Urban Teacher, ICT Teacher
  • Joysy John, Director of Education, Nesta

Longitude Explorer finalists
Longitude Explorer competitor at one of our finalist events

Why do you think programmes like Longitude Explorer are important for young people?

Liz: Young people are brilliant at disruptive thinking,  just look at impact Greta Thunberg has had on the climate debate.    Programmes like Longitude Explorer provide a platform to help spark and surface those brilliant new ideas.

Mark: These types of programmes are beneficial to young people because it raises their aspiration to the opportunities that exist in the UK. We want to ensure that young people have high aspirations and talent is given access to thrive in a growing labour market. This award provides a platform for young people to showcase their talents.

What are you most excited about/looking forward to as a judge for Longitude Explorer? 

Liz: Young people ooze passion, creativity and desire to make a difference.  They also can be very challenging and impatient which in this context is a really good thing.  I cannot wait to see what exciting ideas they have to improve the lives of others. I also fully expect to look back on my 11 -16 year old self and feel very lacking!

Mark: Being a judge gives me a unique opportunity to review young people’s amazing work. Also it provides a chance to encourage the next generation to bring their hidden talents to the forefront and reward their efforts.

What kind of thing are you looking out for in applications/what advice would you have for young people thinking about applying? 

Liz: Three pieces of advice:

  • Get involved!  This competition is for you.  It’s not something for other people.   
  • Don’t worry about the technology, focus on what problems matter to you and what you’d do to solve them.  There’s lots of help on hand to help bring your ideas to life!
  • Think big!  Be really bold and disruptive in your ideas.  But don’t think you need to be the next Greta, solving a problem you see in your neighbourhood or for a particular community however small is just as important.

Oh and one final thing, have fun!

Mark: What I’m looking for in the application process is for young people to show how they are being innovative and a passion for doing what they do.

It will be great to see how young people break down a big task into small chunks that help to solve a problem. This require there them to be clear and precise in what they are trying to achieve.

Don’t worry about the technology, focus on what problems matter to you and what you’d do to solve them.  There’s lots of help on hand to help bring your ideas to life!

And finally Mark, as the Urban Teacher, why do you think teachers in the UK should put forward their students for Longitude Explorer Prize? 

Teachers should put forward their students for the prize because it will help to strengthen their professional portfolios and record of achievements. Also it will help the school to show how they are harnessing young people’s talent in stem.

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