Over 400 children visited ICE's stand at this year's Big Bang, an annual science, technology and engineering fair, at Coventry Ricoh Arena on 23 June. Minecraft which is a hugely popular on-line adventure game, was displayed on a big screen on the ICE stand, and children queued up for a chance to grab a controller and join in the challenge.
Boys and girls aged between 8 and 12 were given a set of virtual materials and asked to use their imaginations to build a bridge; harbour, or structure using a set of Minecraft tools and materials in a mini virtual environment in a 20 minute timeframe. Many of them were very familiar with Minecraft and knew more about it than Gbenga.
However, with his engineering knowledge and penchant for video games he was able to help them make the connection between the game and the real world of civil engineering. Their teachers said they'd never seen them so focused on an activity!
Feedback from the excited school children included: "I got to build a railway line!", "the endless possibilities to build to my heart's content" And one hoped to see "engineering, using Minecraft as something to train with."
ICE in the West Midlands plans to roll out the Minecraft activity for use in local schools, as a novel way to engage children. The aim is that children can learn about the basic principles of civil engineering by using a game which they already love and enjoy using.
Gbenga says: "We hope this activity will help children to make the connection between the virtual world, where they use their imagination to design buildings and structures, and the real world of civil engineering as a potential career."
To find out more about educational activities in the West Midlands contact Rebecca Martin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0121 2373640.