Microsoft and the UK Environment Agency have launched a new mod on Microsoft that uses AI to convert real-world towns into Minecraft maps.
Minecraft: Education Edition has long been used to teach classrooms everything from history to computer science, but a new project called Rivercraft has just been added that is intended to teach kids about flooding and the environment.
The new download was released today and is based on the £54.7 million flood risk management scheme in Preston and South Ribble, which is scheduled to be completed by summer 2023 and is designed to protect 4,700 homes in the area.
The virtual version of Preston in the game is the first of its kind to use artificial intelligence to automatically convert a region from a real-world map into a Minecraft world, with the idea being that any other town or area can be recreated in the same way in the future.
The mod contains three different games, with the first intended to teach how flooding risks can be managed, with preventive measures and by building flood defences – which is obviously something that’s pretty easy to demonstrate using Minecraft.
The second game revolves around climate change and how it increases flood risks, while the third encourages kids to explore their local environment and learn about ‘priority’ species and their habitats.
The mod has been created with help from Microsoft, the UK Environment Agency, and Archbishop Temple School in Preston. It can be downloaded from the Minecraft: Education Edition website, along with an educator guide to help in the classroom.
‘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 at Microsoft.
‘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.’
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