A MAMMOTH design mission launches

This week Building Plymouth is hosting it’s annual ‘Mission Mammoth STEAMFest’ which aims to inspire and engage primary school children with the world of construction and the built environment.

Working together, construction professionals including architects, engineers, project managers, landscape designers, sustainability champions and surveyors, are working alongside the children to help shape their creative ideas to design an imaginary ‘Mammoth House’ to accommodate Mildred the Mammoth who is currently living in The Box, with her mammoth friend George who is coming to live in Plymouth.

Hosted in partnership with The Box and Arts University Plymouth, Mission Mammoth STEAMFest is designed to offer the children an exciting experience of hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) activities, whilst also promoting the careers involved and raising aspirations for undertaking these critical subjects.

Working together with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the University of Plymouth, this year’s activities include a new twist to emphasise the importance of civil engineering which follows on from the recent 300th anniversary of the birth of British civil engineer John Smeaton who famously designed Plymouth’s Smeaton’s Tower. Throughout June in the build up to Mission Mammoth week, nearly 300 local primary school children visited the famous lighthouse, where they met real-life, modern civil engineers and learnt about John Smeaton to bring their new learning into play ahead of designing their Mammoth House.

This week over 70 construction industry professionals are volunteering their time with four different activities delivered each day so that the children have chance to learn about mammoths, finding out where they lived, what they ate and how big they were. Then armed with these facts, the children will use this information to consider the design options for the Mammoth House with a key focus on sustainability and the engineering challenges posed by housing two huge mammoths. The children will also focus on the comfort and safety aspects and will have the chance to get hands on with lots of different materials and fixtures looking at “Top Trunks” cards to decide which is the most cost effective and best for their designs. To conclude their challenge, the children will head outside The Box, dressed appropriately for the occasion by wearing hard hats and high viz, and using industry

equipment to undertake a mark and measure activity to plan new site. Alongside this they will have a chance to explore the plants and trees that were around when mammoths roamed the earth in a make-shift ‘Tuskany Gardens’ area and consider the environmental aspects to designing the new mammoth house including how to best manage mammoth poo! The children will gather and record what they have learnt throughout the day in a takeaway activity booklet.

Emma Hewitt, Skills Lead at Plymouth City Council said: “Our annual Mission Mammoth STEAMfest is always such a brilliant opportunity for raising the aspirations of our children and to make the vital subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics exciting and vibrant, as well as showing how they could play their part in building the world around us. Huge thank you to our partners and the local construction industry for their commitment and generosity in investing time, resources and money into delivering this free, fun action-packed week. I am always so impressed by the insights that this design challenge presents in showcasing a breadth of careers to enthuse our future budding architects, engineers and creatives.”

Sam Morcumb, Pre-Construction Manager from Obedair Construction who helped develop the hands-on activities and activity booklet said: “We are working hard together as a construction community to enthuse the next generation of professionals and this week is all about bringing the great young creative minds of the future together with the creative minds of now, and enriching the application of knowledge to complement the national curriculum, bringing academic subjects to life which we hope will plant a seed about joining the construction industry in the future.”

After their exciting day at The Box, the children will then be supported back in the classroom by representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) who will assist the children in further developing their Mammoth House design ideas ahead of entering a competition to bring their creative ideas to life, followed by an awards ceremony after the summer holidays.

This event has been fully funded by the construction industry with sponsorship kindly received from BAM Construct, Devon Contractors, Drew & Co, Gilpin Demolition, Hoare Lea, Kier BAM, Kier Construction, Matthew Edwards, Nevada Construction, Stride Treglown, Ward Williams Associates, Willmott Dixon and YGS Landscapes.

Other construction companies helping with set up and supporting the children across the week include representatives from AECOM, Airey & Coles, Appleyard & Trew, Arcadis, Babcock, Bailey Partnership, Balfour Beatty, Hydrok, Jubb, Kingsmoor Construction, LHC Design, Obedair Construction, Retain, Service Design Solutions, T Clarke and Travis Perkins.

Adam Murray, Learning Officer at The Box said: “We are really excited to be hosting Mission Mammoth STEAMFEST 2024. Throughout this week students from local schools will be able to explore their local heritage including a link with John Smeaton, enrich their STEM skills and enjoy an inspiring and fun day of activities. Learning is at the heart of our organisation and it’s a great opportunity for local students to engage with the collections here.”

Dr Stephen Felmingham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Arts University Plymouth said: “We’re proud to be collaborating with Building Plymouth on Mission Mammoth STEAMFEST 2024 and to be able to support children creatively from across the city. The collaboration within this project between architectural and construction companies, artists and other organisations is an excellent example of STEAM in action, ensuring that students have opportunities to develop complementary skills in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.”

Miranda Housden, Regional Director of Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West said: “John Smeaton was one of the great innovators of the 18th century and an early pioneer in showing how civil engineers can solve seemingly insurmountable problems for the benefit of society. Today, civil engineers use creative problem solving to tackle challenges from climate change to rural isolation. We need thinkers like Smeaton for the future, with a range of skills and backgrounds, so we’re hoping to inspire Plymouth children to become the civil engineers of tomorrow.”

To find out more, watch the short video of Mission Mammoth STEAMFest 2022 Here