Real road schemes in Minecraft target young engineers

Image: National Highways

National Highways is targeting the next generation of engineers with three real-world schemes in the school version of the Minecraft game.

Students aged 7-11 (key stage 2) and 11-14 (key stage 3) can learn about everything road designers have to take into account when planning schemes such as the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements and the A303 at Stonehenge.

Through the in-game activities students will get a sense of the range of skills used by National Highways to tackle major projects, including: archaeology, biology, ecology, civil engineering, communications technology and coding.

The educational package is aligned to the national curriculum and is available to all teachers and schools that have access to Microsoft Education Centre. Five activities are available:

Lower Thames Crossing – tunnel digging: students use a Minecraft model of the proposed tunnel to learn about tunnelling, and excavate and build a portion of the tunnel.

Lower Thames Crossing – signs game: using a model of a different section of the planned scheme, students use MakeCode to programme road signs to respond to different scenarios, including severe weather and flooding.

A428 Black to Caxton Gibbet improvements – natural habitats game: students use a section of the roundabout to create a new stretch of road while keeping animal habitats safe.

A303 Stonehenge – across the ages: students take an historic journey through different time periods with Stonehenge as the backdrop, including the Mesolithic Era, Neolithic Era, Bronze Age, Roman Britain, WWI, present day, and the planned A303 Stonehenge road scheme.

A303 Stonehenge – biodiversity game: using a Minecraft model of a green bridge section of the proposed scheme, students can explore the biodiversity of the area by photographing the flora and fauna in the landscape.

The Minecraft maps and games were created by Blockbuilders, a company that specialises in engaging young people with planning, the environment and local history using Minecraft.

Natalie Jones, National Highways talent delivery lead, said: “We want to inspire the next generation of talented engineers and scientists, on whom the country’s infrastructure and national economy will one day depend. Our ambition is to seek out the next James Dyson or Dame Sarah Gilbert and help put them on the path to a fascinating life and career. With the help of Minecraft and the in-game activities, students will get first-hand experience of what would go into building a huge bridge or digging a giant tunnel.”

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