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Innovation: How do Engineers Solve Global Challenges?

Innovation: How do Engineers Solve Global Challenges?

This lesson has been put together for British Science Week 2021.

Get the learning materials ready first!

There is a presentation, worksheets and a lesson plan to go along with this content. Since the presentation has the answers to the questions in it we would like to ask teachers to email us at to get a copy.

The other files can be downloaded by clicking these links: lesson plan, presentation.

Learning objectives

  • Understand how products are taken from the ‘design’ phase through to real products
  • See how engineers are using innovation to fight global challenges
  • Practise pitching an idea of your own to help make the world a better place

Your task for this lesson

There is one video for you to watch. While you watch them, you should make notes on which bits impress you. Do you have a favourite innovation? Is there a phrase or a way a speaker introduces an idea that you like? You’ll be doing your own pitches at the end of the lesson so think about how you would present these innovations too.

The video

Featuring: Dr Kylash Makenji, Rohin Titmarsh, Dr Darren Hughes, Dr Elspeth Keating, Dr James Winnett, Dave Rawlins, Prof. Naomi Brookes, and Dr Phil Jemmett

Note: this video was originally made for a year 10 summer school - so don't worry when the opening and closing slides say 'Summer School'. We know it's still only March... unfortunately! But the weather will get better, and this video is still a good chance to hear from our engineers.

This version of the video is in high definition which may strain some internet connections, especially while streaming. If you would like to try a different resolution, there is also a 720p and a 480p version available. You can also download the high definition 1080p version here.

Making your pitch

This is the speech you would make to convince a stranger that your idea was the best and worth investing in. You don't have long to catch someone's attention before they decide they aren't listening any more. First impressions are important, so we have to make this powerful!

Any product you've ever seen will have been pitched in this style at some point. You might only have one chance to convince someone of your brightest idea ever - so it's worth practising it now.

You can do this either as a video or as a written pitch.

  • A video pitch should be 30 seconds max.
  • The word limit for a written example is 100 words.

It should be clear, confident, and convincing. Here's a suggested structure for it:

a diagram for your pitch - the steps are 1) introduce yourself 2) describe your goals 3) why is your idea the best? 4) call to action

An example

Hi, I’m Phil.

Humans achieve incredible things. Sometimes we don’t think things through, though. The right way now might not always be the right way. We have non-degradable plastics in every corner of our rapidly-heating planet.

I believe the most incredible thing we can do as a society is make a better future to exist in. To do that, governments must support and encourage sustainability. Consumers should demand sustainable products. Most importantly – companies and corporations must make our products in the most sustainable way.

If we all come together to do that, we will have a green future after all.

Over to you! Time to try out pitching an idea yourself. You can either pitch one of the ideas mentioned in the video or pick an idea of your own. Imagine that you're trying to convince an investor to give you money for your idea.