Following a showcase in Wiltshire earlier this month, schools in the county have the chance to jump in and explore the Stonehenge World Heritage Site with the help of Minecraft.
National Highways has teamed up with Minecraft to use educational versions of its game to inspire the next generation of talented tech experts, engineers, scientists and mathematicians who will be needed for infrastructure improvement and development in the future.
As part of the A303 Stonehenge – Through the Ages game, students will complete tasks as they’re taken on a historical journey, with Stonehenge as the backdrop, from the Mesolithic era through to the present day and the future with potential improvements to the current road.
A second A303 Stonehenge – Biodiversity game uses a Minecraft model of a green bridge, where students can explore the biodiversity of the area by photographing the flora and fauna in the landscape.
Pupils from St Michael’s Primary School in Larkhill and the Avon Valley Academy in Durrington were part of the national pilot for the Minecraft experience, and the package was also presented to schools at Wiltshire Council’s Learning Resources Hub STEAM FAIR 2022 earlier this month.
The event, held at County Hall, Trowbridge, was attended by 1,200 pupils and support staff and was supported by Swindon and Wiltshire Careers Hub and The James Dyson Foundation
David Bullock, National Highways’ project manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “We want to inspire the next generation of talented engineers and scientists, on whom the country’s infrastructure will one day depend, and it was really pleasing to see the learning tool so well received at the STEAM Fair.”
Through the in-game activities, students will get a sense of the range of skills used by National Highways to build some of the biggest road projects in a generation, 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; the only requirement is that they have access to Microsoft Education Centre.
For the proposed A303 scheme in Wiltshire, two games and a creative mode have been developed, along with lesson plans that teachers can use with their students aged seven to 11 (Key stage 2) and 11-14 (Key stage 3).
Nicky Phillips, Headteacher at St Michael’s Primary School, said: “We used the game to explore archaeology, engineering, and sustainability.
“This has broadened the students’ understanding of what goes into building a road and they were all really engaged. I’ve seen a huge difference in their conversational skills and it was great to see how games they usually play can be used to teach.”
The Minecraft maps and games were created by Blockbuilders CIC, a specialist company aimed at engaging young people into planning, the environment and local history using Minecraft.