Bridge The Gap
Hosting a building competition at a regional fair, we assisted Highways England in trying to fill the engineering skills gap in the UK. By building bridges over a river, set in a small recreation of London, children playfully learned more about engineering.Scroll to begin
Highways England reached out to us and asked to help them put together a Minecraft experience for the 'Year of Engineering' that would be available at the 'Big Bang Fair 2018' in Birmingham, with the purpose of getting children from 7 to 17 years old interested in engineering and filling this current skills gap.
Together with the Highways England team, we finalized a concept where children would be able to build either a bridge or tunnel between two cities laying on opposite banks of a river.
As each one of these cities has grown, the residents struggle to get to the other side. The existing ferry that links the two cities cannot operate when it is windy, and the current road around the river takes too long. Children now need to create a way of providing a new road link between the two by either building a bridge or tunnel across the water.
We offered to create this scenario and place it on a Minecraft server, that children would be able to access at the fair using iPad's. Each child would log in and create their account. That way they could access the server even from home and continue working.
Once on the server, each child would receive a plot that only he/she would be able to access and build on. Protecting each creation from interference was essential.
We had to set ourselves a tight deadline of just under ten days as the fair was about to launch.
Within the deadline, we create two cities separated by a river. Each town had a slightly different theme and architecture to ensure that children would be able to navigate and differentiate the two easily.
As this project is done for children from England, we closely mimicked British architecture on the buildings and tried to give them a familiar environment to work within. The roads are filled with life, like different vehicles, stands and more.
We also put together the server with custom plugins that fixed the unique challenges of having children log in from the same device over and over again on a fair stand.
Spark Squared set up a fantastic Minecraft challenge for us to run at a major careers fair for school children. They produced a remarkable world at very short notice and provided continued support throughout the set-up of the event. We were delighted that we were able to introduce children to the world of engineering in an innovative way by engaging them in an activity of their interest.
Vicky Shepherd, communications planning manager Highways England
This Minecraft experience launched on the 14th of March 2018 and was available for a few days for hundreds of children to play.