The South Australian State Government is asking kids to design changes to the state’s national parks using the video game Minecraft.
Upper primary school students will use the internationally acclaimed “sandbox” video game to design their ideal national park from scratch, or to design changes to an existing park.
The winning designs will help guide national park upgrades worth around $10 million.
Minecraft allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a pixelated three-dimensional world.
The competition is open to students in years four, five, six and seven in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.
“The parks they design as part of this competition might include trails for bushwalking, mountain biking or horse riding, barbecue and picnic areas, public toilets, wheelchair accessible areas, campgrounds, scenic lookouts, adventure playgrounds, interpretive trails, places to launch canoes – or something completely different,” said Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter.
“Whatever they create on the screen needs to be able to be translated into the real world.
“We’d like to see trails and other built features that are creative, practical, usable and sustainable, that complement the natural environment and the plants and animals living in it.”
The winning class will win a government-funded excursion to the Belair National Park.
“They’ll spend the day with a ranger, walking and cycling, playing tennis, enjoying the adventure playground, learning about nature, exploring and having fun, which is something our parks are fantastic for,” said Hunter.
People involved in community, education and tourism organisations will be asked to sift through the entries and deliver their recommendations to the government.
Environment department community consultation officer Georgia Gowing, who came up with the idea, said kids were unlikely to respond to normal consultation methods and that something innovative was required to involve them in the process.
“We’re looking for new ways to get people to talk to us,” she said.
“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.
“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.”
She said the government would be taking all practical suggestions seriously.
“We’re not going to design an entire park around what each kid wants to do, but we’re going to take the elements.”
The competition closes June 12, with the winner announced the following day.