National Highways uses Minecraft to inspire future generation of workers

National Highways uses Minecraft to inspire future generation of workers
National Highways – formerly Highways England – has teamed up with world’s best-selling video game Minecraft to “inspire the next generation of talented engineers and scientists”.

Students can now immerse themselves in three of National Highways’ proposed schemes within the game, following their launch on Monday 6 September.

The aim is for young people to get experience in everything road designers have to consider when planning schemes, like the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements and the A303 past Stonehenge – which have been added to the game.

The virtual taster will give players an insight into the skills the agency responsible for motorways and major A roads in England uses in the real world when building mass road projects. It covers elements of everything from archaeology, biology and ecology, to civil engineering, communications technology and coding.

Five games and a Creative Mode have been developed, as well as lesson plans teachers can use for students aged 7-11 (key stage 2) and 11-14 (key stage 3).

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. In real life these are multi-million-pound structures that are carefully designed and then built by experts.

“These skills and expertise help to create the motorways and main roads that keep us all moving, whether going to work, delivering goods or keeping families and friends connected.”

The new activities will include:

  • Lower Thames Crossing – Tunnel Digging
  • Lower Thames Crossing – Signs game
  • A428 Black to Caxton Gibbet improvements – Natural Habitats game
  • A303 Stonehenge – Across the Ages
  • A303 Stonehenge – Biodiversity game

When digging tunnels, for example, students will use a Minecraft model of the proposed LTC tunnel to learn about the process and excavate and build a portion of the tunnel. This way of learning will be replicated in the other games, such as virtually exploring the biodiversity of an area by photographing the plants and animals in the landscape.

The educational package is aligned to the national curriculum and is available to all teachers and schools who have access to Microsoft Education Centre. Each proposed scheme has a Creative Mode, which is intended to be used during lunchtime or after school clubs. This will ask a different set of questions, and students can spend time building and designing related things.

The Minecraft maps and games were created by Blockbuilders C.I.C, experts in engaging young people around planning, the environment and local history through Minecraft.

Megan Leckie, Co-Director at BlockBuilders Youth Engagement, said: “Creative platforms such as these open up a whole new world of learning for young people, where they can be directly engaged with their local environment and find out more about engineering.”

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