A MAMMOTH design challenge gets underway in Plymouth

This week Building Plymouth is hosting ‘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.

Over 70 construction industry professionals are volunteering their time across the week 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. 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.

Speaking at Monday’s launch event, Councillor Sally Cresswell, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships said: “This is 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, showing how they really apply in the world of problem solving. Huge thanks to the local construction industry for their commitment and generosity in investing time and money into delivering this free, fun action packed week. I am so impressed by the insights that Mission Mammoth STEAMFest presents in showcasing a breadth of careers to enthuse our future budding architects, engineers and creatives.”

Bringing along nearly 100 children to enjoy Mission Mammoth, Sean Boyle, Year 5 and 6 Teacher at Holy Cross Primary School said: “This is such a fantastic way to bring together disciplines in a creative way and present challenges as a real world situation. Today will inspire the children in so many different ways and we look forward to dedicating time back at school to continue developing Mammoth House design ideas to submit for the awards.”

Sam Morcumb, Pre-Construction Manager from Obedair Construction who helped develop the hands-on activities 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.”

Steve Warren-Brown, Managing Director of YGS Landscapes said: “We have built ‘Tuskany Gardens’ outside The Box as a little haven to help encourage the children to think about creating the best environment for the two mammoths to live happily together. We are passionate about embedding sustainability and landscaping as an important part of the construction industry.”

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 Arcadis, BAM Construct, City College Plymouth, Hoare Lea, JUBB, Kier BAM, Kier Construction, Matthew Edward, Nevada Construction, Persimmon Homes, 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, Balfour Beatty, Coreus, Countryside Partnerships, LHC Design, Morgan Sindall, Obedair Construction, SWH, T Clarke, Travis Perkins and Tungsten West.

Adam Murray, Learning Officer at The Box said: We are really excited to be hosting Mission Mammoth STEAMFEST. Throughout this week students from local schools will be able to explore their local heritage, 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 have collaborated with Building Plymouth on this creative project and to be able to support children 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 and why it’s so important to ensure that students have opportunities to develop complementary skills in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.”

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