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UK University Creates Minecraft Mod to Help Children Learn Biochemistry

A UK University aims to teach students biochemistry using the hugely popular sandbox game Minecraft. 

The MolCraft project, hosted by the University of Hull, is a bespoke world created within Minecraft which hopes to introduce children to topics relating to biochemistry such as the structure of chemicals and proteins. 

The project was created using funding received from the Royal Society of Chemisty and is currently available as a free download for the PC version of Minecraft. Additional features in the game include a range of molecular protein chains created using Minecraft’s familiar blocks and a host of virtual prizes, quizzes and goodies all aimed at helping young people learn. 

The researchers behind the MolCraft project, Mark Lorche and Joel Mills, sat down with The Conversation to discuss their innovative idea in more detail. “MolCraft is a world where the majestic helices of myoglobin rise above you. Where you can explore this massive molecule and its iron centre that carries oxygen around your muscles. Or, if you prefer you can fly down a pore through which water molecules normally flow across cell membranes.

“In MolCraft, anyone can explore the building blocks of these incredible natural nano-machines. You can discover how just 20 chemical building blocks can result in the astonishing diversity of structures and functions that are required to hold living things together.”

The team at the University of Hull hope that their MolCraft project will be adopted in schools across the country and have released the game as part of the MinecraftEdu library of worlds and mods which is available to most teachers.

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