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They Did What?: 

Kids invited to design Australian national park with Minecraft


“Hmmm, now where should this giant blue robot go?”

Most parents probably wish their kids would spend less time staring at screens and more time playing in their local park, but the South Australian government has come up with a new initiative which combines the two.

Primary school children in Adelaide are being asked to design their ‘perfect national park’ using the block-building game Minecraft, with the best ideas potentially finding their way into the real world. The competition is perhaps wisely noncommittal, offering the winning class a day’s excursion to Belair National Park as the top prize, while dangling the carrot that the best ideas may end up being implemented. Y’know, just in case they’re all terrible.

Even so, the government has set aside $8.9 million to spend on new park projects, with kids in grades four to seven given the chance to prove their worth in Minecraft design skills. Suggested features in the competition brief include bushwalking trails, picnic areas, camp sites and, errr, public toilets. So go wild kids, and design the toilet of your wildest fantasies!

Our junior designers are also reminded that their ideas need to be able to created in the real world, complement the natural environment and take into the account animals and plants that live there. The winning entry will be selected based on sustainability, usability, overall skill and not forgetting an enjoyment factor – this is supposed to be fun, don’t forget.

“Were looking for new ways to get people to talk to us. “We’ve got an online survey for the adults, but for the kids, we thought we’d have a go at doing something a bit innovative,” environment department consultation officer Georgia Gowing told In Daily.

“We want to know what children want from national parks. Do they want more mountain bike trails? Do they want rock-climbing walls? Do they want natural play areas? It’s a really good thing to get kids using video games as a positive. They do this stuff on a screen and then they get out into a real national park.”

Personally, we’d like to see this theory tested more widely. How about we get kids playing Sim City and then put them in-charge of real-life city planning for a week? Fine, let’s see how the park goes first.

Photo: Kevin Jarret / Flickr

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