U.K. Students Create MolCraft, a Minecraft World That Teaches Biochemistry

Posted by | November 09, 2015 | News | No Comments

In the U.K., students at The University of Hull have created a Minecraft world that aims to teach basic biochemistry. It’s called MolCraft, and it’s sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The world can be downloaded and run by anyone—anyone with a licensed copy of Minecraft and 4 GB of RAM, that is. MolCraft is populated with structures of proteins and chemicals. Also included is some chemical history.

Besides running it on your own computer and exploring what’s already there, you can make your own molecules using the world’s building blocks.

MolCraft

MolCraft molecule model of Histidine

Users are encourage to share their creations on Twitter with the hashtag #MolCraft.

Download links and instructions are available on the University of Hull Chemistry Department website.

The University of Hull students built MolCraft by porting protein structures from a protein database and from the free software Avogadro into Minecraft. “Chemists often build ball and stick models of molecules to help visualise them. The balls represent atoms and the sticks are bonds between them. By convention different atoms are represented by certain colours. We’ve stuck to this colour scheme by using dyed wool blocks.” The dyed wool blocks are standard Minecraft items.

molcraft myoglobin

MolCraft model of myoglobin protein

Besides chemical models, MolCraft also offers hidden treasure chests that contain “goodies, puzzles, and quiz books.” The download website also offers to support teachers: “MolCraft is available in the EDU world library for use in schools. If you are a teacher and want to use it then get in touch and we can provide you with more supporting information.”

Linda Breneman

About Linda Breneman

Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.