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'Generation invent': Today's school kids dream up 116 inventions a second

New research shows that nine in ten (91%) 11-15 year olds come up with ideas and inventions every day, with almost one in ten (9%) claiming to always think of new ideas and inventions.


On average, school children come up with three inventions every day according to the research. This is the equivalent of 116 ideas a second being generated by the nation’s 3.5m school children.


Only four in ten (43%), however, feel supported in making their ideas and inventions a reality.


Girls feel particularly unsupported in helping bring their ideas to fruition – 38% of girls claim they lack the support to make their ideas and inventions a reality compared to 31% of boys.


To help nurture the nation's budding inventors, the Your Life campaign, which aims to encourage young people to study maths and physics, has launched a new schools’ competition – Formula 100 – following a successful pilot last year.


Aimed at 11-16 year olds, Formula 100 is a nationwide search for the UK's most innovative and creative young minds. Young people can enter by sending a 30-60 second video explaining "what would you invent and why?' Entries will be judged by leading employers and winners will receive an iPad, £1,000 for their school and get the opportunity to see their invention brought to life.


Emma Heatley-Adams, Your Life ambassador who spent over 15 years working as an inventor, said, "This new research shows that teenagers are simply bursting with ideas to invent things. But for these ideas to come alive we need to encourage young people and give them confidence especially young girls. One way of doing that is by providing them with role models to inspire and excite them so that we can unlock talent and uncover the ideas of the future."


Julia Wardley-Kershaw, of Northampton High School, was awarded first place in last year's Formula 100 competition for her innovative safety system for aircraft idea. Her prize was a tour of BAE Systems’ Military Air and Information business where she toured the Typhoon and Hawk aircraft assembly lines, met BAE Systems’ test pilots and even had the opportunity to try out a state-of-the-art flight simulator.


When asked how she now sees her future after the visit, she said, "The visit to BAE Systems was incredible! I didn’t realise this wonderful technology existed here. Now I know that I’m more interested in aeroplanes, or the plane branch of aerospace. I’m about to do my GCSE’s, then A Levels for which I’ll definitely study Maths and Engineering. The next step is university, and after today, I’d be more inclined to study Aerospace Engineering."


The research shows that maths and physics lessons in particular could help unlock school children’s ideas. With 48% of students claiming maths and physics lessons are boring and 25% saying they have no relevance to the real world, the competition gives teachers the chance to liven up the school day by helping students turn their dream inventions into reality.


Ruth Amos, Engineer and Entrepreneur and Your Life ambassador, said, “Taking maths and physics at A Level has got me where I am today - running three businesses that I love. It all started when I got recognised as Young Engineer for Britain 2006 for my GCSE project idea, 'The Stair Steady'. I was all geared up to go into law but then I won the award for my invention and got to meet some amazing women in engineering. I was amazed that such glamorous women could be engineers. This inspired me to take maths and further maths at A Level, alongside Physics and I use both these subjects in my job every day.


“You've got to make maths and physics interesting for young people so that they're inspired to study the subjects at A Level. The Formula 100 competition is great because it shows young people they can invent things that can turn into a business like mine, which I'm so passionate about. Maths and physics A Level keeps your career options open. The breadth of both subjects means you’ll always find something fascinating to do."


Edwina Dunn, entrepreneur and chair of the industry and government-backed Your Life campaign, added, “The Formula 100 competition is designed to stimulate young people’s fascination with discovery and encourage them to think about how everyday inventions are made real through technology and science. It's about inspiring the next generation to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true.


Working with some of the UK's most exciting companies, we have an opportunity to modernise perceptions about science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and inspire young people about science.”


Mike Gawthorne, chief executive at Serocor, said, “Inspiring young people is so important and critical for not just their own growth but growth in industry and business. It is therefore key that companies engage with young people from an early stage. This can be via a number of routes via schools and colleges.  We as a company work with a lot of local secondary schools both in workshops and mentoring schemes and it is amazing to see the individuals grow in confidence.


“As a company we actively engage with young people in employment, this is through apprenticeship schemes and university placements so that they learn and develop and we actively encourage their ideas and suggestions for business improvement, which benefits us massively.”


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