I've had the chance to see some of the early works on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing route, which skims the edge of the Brentwood and Ongar constituency, in recent weeks, having visited the site of the new community forest at Hole Farm, and seen some of the archaeological digs along the possible route.
National Highways is keen to inspire the next generation of talented tech experts, engineers, scientists and mathematicians in Kent and Essex with the help of Minecraft, the world’s bestselling video game. Young students are being given the chance to have a go at building some of the most ambitious road projects in a generation, which have been recreated as Minecraft games.
National Highways says the games, will provide a fresh new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning experience, include two based on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, a new road that will almost double road capacity across the Thames east of London through the longest road tunnels in the UK and create new parks and woodland.
Shaun Pidcock, Lower Thames Crossing Programme Director, said: “These games are a key investment into future careers. They have been designed to inspire the new generation to work on the most transformational projects in the country. “The proposed Lower Thames Crossing would employ more than 22,000 people over the lifetime of its construction and we hope that the Crossing and these games will be a gateway for young people in our local communities to a long and fulfilling career.”
Five new Minecraft games have been developed, with a further three based upon National Highways’ A303 Stonehenge and A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet schemes. Each have lesson plans aligned to the national curriculum, showcasing skills, including archaeology, ecology, civil engineering, communications technology, and coding. Teachers with access to the Microsoft Education Edition (MEE) can use in the classroom with their students aged 7-11 (key stage 2) and 11-14 (key stage 3) or during lunchtimes and after schools clubs using the Creative Modes where students can design and build. MEE is also available for parents to download at home.
The Lower Thames Crossing games include:
• Tunnel Digging: Students will be learning about tunnelling and have the chance to excavate and build a portion of the new Lower Thames Crossing tunnel using a Minecraft model.
• Sign Safety: Students will be the controller behind keeping the new Lower Thames Crossing safe. Using Make Code, they will manage road signs responding to different scenarios, including severe weather conditions and wandering animals.
In partnership with STEM Learning’s STEM Ambassador Hub South East and The Careers & Enterprise Company, the Lower Thames Crossing is planning to hold virtual events to demonstrate the games and support their use with more schools in the area. They’re asking for schools to register their attendance by filling out a form on the Lower Thames Crossing website. The Minecraft games were created by Blockbuilders C.I.C, an expert company aimed at engaging young people into planning, the environment and local history using Minecraft.
Visit lowerthamescrossing.co.uk for more information on this project