On Tuesday 5th April, pupils from Archbishop Temple Church of England High School had the opportunity to try out ‘Rivercraft’, a specially developed Minecraft game based on the Environment Agency’s £54.7M flood defence scheme in Preston and South Ribble. The defence scheme will reduce flood risk to 4,700 homes when complete. Using interactive play through the creation of a Minecraft world, the games will help young people learn about climate change, the environment and flooding along with raising awareness of careers in STEM and civil engineering.
“This is an amazing opportunity for students and a project we are proud to be a part of. Not only will young people learn about a major flooding scheme in the UK, but they will also discover more about climate change, the environment, flooding and the types of roles available for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Andy Brown, Flood Risk Manager for the Environment Agency. “We want to help everyone discover their drive, passion and enthusiasm for the environment and the jobs available within that sector. We can’t wait to see Rivercraft and the Preston world brought to life across the globe.”
“We know that people around the world love Minecraft, and so it is really rewarding for us to see Minecraft encouraging students to talk about and engage with environmental issues,” said Justin Edwards, Director of Learning Programmes, Minecraft. “The game provides an opportunity not just to get to know the flooding scheme in Ribble, but also understand real world impact in a safe and fun way. The game also shows how communities are impacted, not just individuals. We’re committed to making a better world through the power of play and this project is at the forefront of that vision.”
“It’s a really fun way to learn,” said Olivia in year 7. “But it also helps us understand what could happen in the future and how most places around here are going to be flooded if we don’t do something. In the Minecraft world we had to build flood defences and a floodgate, then we had to replace the concrete in the park with grass, so some of the water would be soaked up and the flooding won’t be as bad.”
“So many children play Minecraft already, so any lesson that can involve Minecraft is a win-win straight away,” said Mrs McLean, Head of ICT and Computing. “I love seeing young people really engaged in a topic and enjoying what they’re doing, because if you enjoy what you do, you learn better. It’s great that they can make mistakes in a safe environment like Minecraft, because that’s how they learn to fix things.”
The Environment Agency and Microsoft will work alongside experts in youth engagement, BlockBuilders to draw users into three themed games. The Preston world will encourage young people to learn about flood risk management, climate change, local human geography, engineering and the environment.
Game 1 – Managing Flooding. This game will focus on building the Preston and South Ribble flood defences. The player will be tasked with constructing various types of flood prevention measures including natural flood management, walls and embankments as well as flood storage areas and flood gates. Players will learn about the pros and cons of each approach and their suitability within local communities
Game 2 – Flood Prevention. This game will explore how individual actions can alleviate climate change and how understanding flood risk can reduce the damage to people and property.
Game 3- Our Local Environment. This game will begin on the riverbank where the player will be tasked with conducting an ecological survey using their digital workbook and camera. The aim of this game will be for the surveyors to spot and record some of our most beloved wildlife species including water voles and otters.
Find out more about the game and flood defence programme here.