Since its release in 2009, millions of kids (and adults) have indulged their inner architects on Minecraft. The video game has been used to construct virtual models of everything from the Taj Mahal to a functioning hard drive, and now Minecraft can be used to teach kids biochemistry.
Built by students at the University of Hull in the UK, MolCraft allows players to take an intimate look at the inner workings of proteins. Users start in the world’s central hall, and from there they can visit any of the 20 essential amino acids to get a personal tour of their atoms, structures, and chemical bonds. The game allows users to maneuver around the proteins to get a three-dimensional view that goes beyond what students would find in a textbook. There are even treasure chests hidden throughout the world to encourage players to keep exploring. While some contain goodies like swords, others hold mini quizzes players can take to evaluate their progress.
The team hopes that MolCraft will be used as a tool by educators in the near future. For anyone interested in exploring the world, you can download it from the University of Hull's website or connect within Minecraft to the server "molcraft.nitrous.it." The researchers have also published the schematics they used to create the structures so players can build molecules of their own. Take a peek at the world in the video below.
[h/t: Popular Science]