Gamification in 3D Virtual Reality – University of Hull

Learning biochemistry in the virtual world called MolCraft

Minecraft started as a fun game about creating, exploring, mining, and managing resources, but now 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 shown us that it can mean much more.

It is no surprise that the University of Hull saw its huge potential and decided to build a game in this virtual reality world 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.  MolCraft can be downloaded and run locally, explored on their server, or just use the schematics of the molecules to populate your own worlds with molecules.

There’s a reason Mojang (Minecraft) was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5bn.

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.

But even more exciting about the acquisition is the vision to take Minecraft to the next level with their HoloLens. In a mind-blowing demonstration, Microsoft showed an entire new way of learning and experimentation combining augmented reality and virtual worlds.

“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.”