By Dr Simon Gage

THERE is nothing that gets a primary school class's attention quicker than the invitation to invent something new. Governed by some as yet poorly understood universal law, hoverboards seem to be the go-to object of desire most rush to sketch. With encouragement though, the vivid imagination of young people can be directed at generating endless solutions to environmental, healthcare, gaming, transport and many other problems. There is something innately satisfying and exciting for young and old to be creative in the act of making things better.

More than ever, we need a generation that can find solutions to world problems. The green revolution that climate change and biodiversity loss need will indeed be a revolution like we have not seen in generations. Pandemics also reveal to us the essential roles science and technology play in keeping us healthy and fit. They illustrate how quickly we can make huge structural changes if we choose to.

At Edinburgh Science we have been investing in the problem solvers of tomorrow for more than three decades through all that we do, at festivals, careers events or in the classroom. At every turn we encounter the extraordinary appetite from young people to discover, imagine and invent. It gives you faith that the talent exists to get us out of most scrapes. Along with others we are in the business of cultivating, enthusing and directing this talent.

This year we have needed to do some imagining and inventing of our own as the restrictions of Covid-19 have completely changed how we work with schools. Gone is the small army of touring workshop givers and performers, the vans, trolleys of kit, the costumes. In their place is a small TV studio hurriedly built in our Edinburgh offices, a whole new way of communicating via video and a warehouse production line to pack hundreds of carboard boxes with equipment and materials we send and leave in classrooms. This is Generation Science, our schools touring programme, re-invented in its 30th anniversary year. Founded in 1991 this programme has now reached around 1,170,000 pupils with another 10,000 expected this year.

Also undergoing a total re-invention is Careers Hive, our own take on a careers event that helps S1-S3 students choose their subjects. No longer a live event, this has migrated online to a gaming environment and runs from 29 April to 1 May.

Primary and secondary schools are the start of a journey for young people that can lead to hugely satisfying careers that help change the world. It is a rare privilege for us to live in a country with such thriving and valued science, tech and creative sectors that have a global significance. From makers of space rockets to new medicines, educational robots to gigantic wind farms, it is an inspiration for us to work with and be supported by organisations that share our values and appreciation of the need to cultivate young minds. Investment managers Baillie Gifford, the headline supporter of our learning and community engagement programmes, couldn’t be a better fit. They scan the world for the people with the next new idea to support. With their help, we do the same in the classrooms of Scotland.

Dr Simon Gage is the Director and CEO of Edinburgh Science