EASTER may traditionally be associated with church and chocolate, the proportion dependent on which way one’s spiritual needle points – and indeed yours may point as far from either of these as a bank holiday weekend will allow you to get – but for a good proportion of those within striking distance of Edinburgh, Easter also comes with a good smattering of slime mould, dry ice and Bunsen burners.

The Edinburgh Science Festival, cannily oriented to the school holidays, has always been a fantastic chance for children to engage in science-based activities of the messier variety, but alongside this and the wide and stimulating events for teens and adults is a series of art exhibitions which visualize and question the science, and the scientific futures, being mooted elsewhere in the programme.

The diverse offerings this year, which also deliberately link in to Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, include superb images from the Royal Photographic Society, a series of miniature building dioramas meditating on the idea of the city at Edinburgh Printmakers, a wholesale slew of exhibitions at Summerhall, a celebration of kaleidoscopes at the Playfair Library and maquettes of the Kelpies at the Zoo.

The programme itself is jointly curated by Science Festival Creative Director Amanda Tyndall, Summerhall and ASCUS Art and Science Collaborative, who jointly scoured their contacts for artists who shared an interest in science in some form or another. If Art and Science may not always be seen as familiar bedfellows, Tyndall points out that it is creativity which is the link. “Art and Science are, after all, both trying to explain the human condition and our place in the world, so they are not as different as people think.”

Tyndall has a particular interest, she tells me, in “linking science, the arts and the digital and creative industries.” The art strand is about connecting with new audiences who don’t see themselves as engaged with the sciences. “And I think there’s a real potential in the links there are to be made between artists and scientists that give us a window on some of the big scientific issues. Ignoring all subject specific boundaries gives us the potential to really tackle the big questions about our existence.”

The exhibitions are eclectic – all in the early stages of installation as Tyndall and I speak – but all explicitly or implicitly engage with Science and the Festival’s key theme this year of building a better planet through collaboration. There are a number of projects specifically conceived for the Festival, including the CO2_Live Project which will, as the name suggests, monitor Co2 levels live outside Summerhall – a battle between the oxygenating trees of the Meadows park and a heavily traffic-polluted corner of the city. The results will be displayed, like a time clock, on Summerhall’s TechCube. Twitter users can also influence the display, choosing which of several different monitors around the world to display on the TechCube at any given point.

Inside Summerhall, a series of exhibitions in the diverse spaces of the former Edinburgh University Dick Veterinary School goes under the title Bio and Beyond, an artist’s eye view on the potential of science to improve our world. The evocatively titled group show, Menagerie of Microbes, includes the work of Heather Barnett, a lecturer at Central St. Martins, who bases her pieces on the aesthetic outcomes of the "primitive intelligence" of slime mould and its mind-boggling applications in modern society – traffic-planning being just one – to Dr Simon Park’s C-Mould, the largest collection of multi-tasking microbial life in the world designed for use in the arts.

Elsewhere, Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s realistic sculptural mock-ups made using DNA found on discarded cigarette butts and the like, highlight the disturbing possibilities of bio-surveillance, and a group of artists create a video installation – The Human’s Planet Earth – that explores the far future of mankind, looking at ideas of utopia and dystopia.

During the curatorial process, it was, says Tyndall, about looking at the creative potential of humans in different disciplines working together to build a better world.

“But we try to get the balance between science and artistic integrity,” says Tyndall. “It’s important that work stands on its own artistically.”

And at the very least, she says, it’s something for the adults to look at whilst the kids get hands-on in the workshops.

Art at the Edinburgh Science Festival, various venues until April 10