A MAMMOTH design mission gets underway

This week Building Plymouth proudly launches ‘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, will work 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 these critical subjects.


Over 70 industry professionals will be 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 which will include opportunity to print their own wallpaper patterns! 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 the visitor experience. 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 ‘jungle’ area. The children will gather and record what they have learnt throughout the day in a fun-filled, takeaway activity booklet.


Sam Morcumb, Pre-Construction Manager from Obedair who was instrumental in coordinating the hands-on activities and development of the activity booklet said: “At the end of Key Stage 2, some children are already starting to become more aware of careers and futures. With the support of some of the most enthusiastic people across the city, we have been able to plan a series of workshop activities in order to support the young, creative minds of the children with the brief of designing a ‘New Mammoth House’. We also designed an activity booklet to link to each of the workshops on the day which will be a useful tool to reflect on once the children are back in their classrooms working on their final proposal and ultimately – their competition entry! Companies of different disciplines, trades and sizes have been able to mobilise and get on-board with delivering something unique and special while being a fantastic way to bring everyone together after two years of COVID. Mammoth rewards for a mission mammoth task!”


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.


Sophie Draper from RIBA who is coordinating the volunteer team in undertaking the follow up visits with the schools to further develop these designs post visit to The Box said “RIBA Learning has been so excited to be part of this incredible and unique project. Designing a home for a Woolly Mammoth is a fantastic and imaginative way to introduce the subjects of architecture and sustainability to children. The learning journey that the children have also completed from taking part in this project, including their visit to the Box and working with an array of amazing professionals, is also an amazing achievement the project organisers should feel very proud of.”


This event has been fully funded by the construction industry with sponsorship kindly received from Constructing Excellence Plymouth Club, Willmott Dixon, Kier Construction, Ward Williams Associates, BAM Construct, Services Design Solutions (SDS), YGS Landscapes and Hoare Lea.


The organisation of Mission Mammoth STEAMFest also presented a challenge for local students who were offered the chance to work on a live design brief. The cute characters of Mildred and George were designed by Zara McDermott who is currently undertaking a BA Illustration degree at Arts University Plymouth (AUP). These characters feature throughout the activity booklet which was designed by Jade Storey who recently finished studying Graphic Design at Arts University Plymouth.


Zara McDermott said "The opportunity to work on such a wonderful project at the end of my first year at AUP is amazing. It's been a real proud moment for myself personally, and I’ve been so grateful for every moment. Working on ‘Mission Mammoth’ has been such a joy, it has brought great value in teaching me about working with live briefs and developing skills that prepare me for my future career."


Jade Storey said “It’s been a great experience working with the Mission Mammoth team. There’s been a real sense of passion and community throughout the project which has made it feel even more special. I can’t wait to hear the response it gets from the schools!”


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."


Morven Maclean, Construction Coordinator for Building Plymouth said: “Our Building Plymouth partnership is working together to inspire and raise awareness about the breadth of career opportunities in construction and the built environment. By delivering STEAMFest, we will be able to positively influence over 400 children about the wide range of jobs and skills needed across design, engineering, surveying, sustainability and management. We are so pleased to be working with students from Pilgrim Primary School, Mount Wise, Cathedral School of St Marys, St Andrews Church of England School, St Joseph’s Cathedral School and Stuart Road Primary School. We are also thrilled to have been able to offer this opportunity to home educated students in the city.”


Adam Murray, Learning Officer at The Box said: We are really excited to be hosting STEAMFEST. Throughout the 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. We’re really looking forward to this fantastic event!”


To learn more about Mission Mammoth STEAMFest, check out our video here.