Gamification of Stonehenge Tunnel and Lower Thames Crossing to inspire next generation of engineers

A trio of National Highways flagship schemes have been gamified by the team behind Minecraft in a bid to inspire the next generation of engineers. National Highways has enlisted the help of Minecraft, the world’s best-selling video game, to inspire…

A trio of National Highways flagship schemes have been gamified by the team behind Minecraft in a bid to inspire the next generation of engineers.

National Highways has enlisted the help of Minecraft, the world’s best-selling video game, to inspire the next generation of talented tech experts, engineers, scientists and mathematicians.

Students across the country will be able to jump in and explore everything road designers have to take into account when they’re planning schemes like the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements and the A303 past Stonehenge.

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. Five games and a creative mode have been developed, along with lesson plans that teachers can use with their students aged 7-11 (key stage 2) and 11-14 (key stage 3). National Highways talent delivery lead Natalie Jones 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 five activities include: Lower Thames Crossing – Tunnel Digging: Students will be using a Minecraft model of the proposed LTC 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 LTC scheme, students will be using 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 will be using a section of the Caxton Gibbet roundabout to create a new stretch of road whilst keeping animal habitats safe. (*Not available at launch) A303 Stonehenge – Across the Ages: Students will be taken on an historic journey through different time periods with Stonehenge as the backdrop, including; Mesolithic Era, Neolithic Era, Bronze Age, Roman Britain, WW1, 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 will explore the biodiversity of the area by photographing the flora and fauna in the landscape. The Minecraft maps and games were created by Blockbuilders C.I.C, a company aimed at engaging young people into planning, the environment and local history using Minecraft. BlockBuilders Youth Engagement co-director Megan Leckie said the company is “very proud” of the National Highways games. “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,” she said. Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.