Gamification in 3D Virtual Reality, University of Hull
Learning biochemistry in the virtual world called MolCraft
There’s a reason Mojang (Minecraft) was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5bn.
Minecraft started as a fun game about creating, exploring, mining, and managing resources. Now, however, many teachers worldwide are using it to teach, helping students develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Many online lessons and programs center on this Lego-style game and, over time, the Minecraft community has demonstrated that it can mean much more.
Since the acquisition, teachers have expanded beyond STEM applications to teach language classes, history, writing, and more. Because of the attraction students have to Minecraft, teachers have discovered that it helps develop skills such as complex problem solving, collaboration, communication, and leadership.
Virtual Reality World for Exploring Molecules
It should be no surprise why the University of Hull saw its huge potential. They decided to build a game in using Minecraft virtual reality worlds to help younger students learn about the world of chemistry. Using undergraduates to create a Minecraft world called MolCraft, students can explore the molecular structure of proteins and chemicals.
Sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the project was developed under the guidance of Dr. Mark Lorch, professor of biological chemistry and Joel Mills, resident Minecraft education expert.
Regarding the game the University of Hull states, “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.”
Online Game is Open Education Resource
MolCraft can be downloaded and run locally, explored on their server, or and instructor can just use the schematics of the molecules to populate their own worlds.
Even more exciting since the acquisition is the vision to take Minecraft to the next level with the Microsoft HoloLens. In a mind-blowing demonstration, Microsoft showed an entire new way of learning and experimentation combining augmented reality and virtual worlds.
Holography Mixed with Gamification
Holography combined with gamification offers a great opportunity to engage students in interactive learning experiences and environments that are authentic, measurable and customized. A hologram is essentially a three-dimensional, free-standing image, created with photographic projection and viewed with the help of special headsets or other wearable devices.
Combined with Minecraft, students can immerse themselves in the lego-style virtual world. In a world of chemistry like MolCraft, the student can gain an entirely different perspective than traditionally seen in a diagram. “Putting people in an environment where it’s OK to fail, where it’s safe to get things wrong, and where it’s OK to rebuild and change is an enlightening process,” Mr Mills said. “Through experiential learning, exploration and experimentation, we can really start to get underneath the barriers that could be there in some situations.”