Children in Hampshire have recreated their town in Minecraft to create a “lasting legacy” that will be updated by future generations.
Youngsters from The Arnewood School teamed up with a local youth theatre, musicians and carers to replicate New Milton in the popular block-building game.
Film clips, music, images and interviews with older residents have been added to the world over time to create a “digital museum” that will shed light on what life in the town has been like since the Second World War.
Jacqueline Goddard, a Community Programme Coordinator at Hampshire Cultural Trust, said the project will benefit the youngsters who created the Minecraft world, as well as those who experience it.
“By giving young people the opportunity to work alongside heritage, IT and arts experts, this project will pass on skills and raise aspirations and confidence,” she said. “By using Minecraft, we hope to capture the imagination inside these young people, as well as the wider community, and show them they can learn about local heritage in a unique and lively way.
“What these youngsters do today will become the history of tomorrow. The outcome of this project will be a lasting legacy that will be updated over time.”
Minecraft is one of the most popular computer games of all time, with more than 120 million copies sold to date. Around 55 million people play the game every month. The Education Edition is used by schools across the world to help youngsters understand subjects such as chemistry, maths and history.
Brighton-based Minecraft experts BlockBuilders referenced Ordnance Survey maps to create basic roads and structures. The 12 and 13-year-olds at The Arnewood School involved in the project then worked in teams to shape these buildings to create the town’s shops, school, train station and recreation ground.
The youngsters also visited Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading to showcase what they had done.
One pupil, Callum, said it had made him more interested in an IT career. “We are learning skills in Minecraft and about the history of New Milton. I will take ICT for GCSE because I want a career in it. This has inspired me a lot,” he said.
His friend Cameron added that he would also choose to study ICT at GCSE level.
Sarah Milligan, a teacher at The Arnewood School, said using Minecraft also helped more girls unlock their creativity.
“It’s a valuable tool. We are doing a lot to try to encourage more girls to do computer science. The word ‘coding’ can be off-putting to some girls, especially when they have to learn commands, but with Minecraft: Education Edition they are dragging and dropping code,” she said. “One of my girls used to always ask for help but with this edition she is using her creative side to drag the code. The more she sees that code, the more she will get used to those commands, which will help if she does computer science. She now has the starting blocks there. Minecraft allows girls to be creative, and it can be a gateway into other subjects.”
Anna, a pupil at Arnewood, agreed. “The current generation might not like a history lesson in class, they might want to do it in a game. You can’t just tell children things that happened, you have to do it in a way they will understand.”
The New Milton Minecraft world has been built with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with support from Hampshire Cultural Trust, Forest Arts Centre, Arnewood School and New Milton Town Council.