National Highways uses Minecraft to inspire tomorrow’s engineers

National Highways is using the world’s best-selling video game, Minecraft, to inspire young students to become engineers, mathematicians and scientists.

The government agency, which recently changed its name from Highways England, has created schemes that will enable students across the UK to jump into the game and explore three proposed road schemes: the Lower Thames Crossing, the A303 past Stonehenge, and the A428 improvements between Black Cat and Caxton Gibbet.

Players can learn about everything road designers have to consider when they’re building multi-million pound structures like a huge bridge or a giant tunnel, and all the skills used to construct some of the UK’s biggest road projects in a generation, including coding, communications technology,civil engineering, ecology, biology and archaeology.

The project includes five games, a creative mode, and lesson plans for teachers to use with students at ages 7-11 (key stage 2) and 11-14 (key stage 3).

The lessons are aligned to the national curriculum and are available to all teachers and schools who have access to Microsoft Education Centre. The games include:

Lower Thames Crossing – Tunnel digging

Lower Thames Crossing – Programme road signs to respond to severe weather and floods

A428 Black to Caxton Gibbet improvements – Protecting animal habitats on a new stretch of road (Not available at launch)

A303 Stonehenge – Travelling through different eras of Stonehenge from the Mesolithic Era to the planned A303 road scheme;

A303 Stonehenge – Exploring biodiversity in the area.

Each of the proposed schemes also comes with a 'creative mode' students can use to build and design their own projects during lunchtime or at after-school clubs.

Blockbuilders C.I.C, a company that aims to get young people interested in planning, local history and the environment using Minecraft, designed the maps and games for National Highways. Megan Leckie, co-director of youth engagement at BlockBuilders, said, “Creative platforms such as these open up a whole new world of learning for young people.”