Building biological models in minecraft

Building biological models in minecraft

School: Edinburgh Medical School (Biomedical Sciences)

Team Members: Melanie Stefan, Richard Fitzpatrick


Biological concepts are often hard to visualise and understand using traditional teaching methods. This is especially true of biochemical signalling pathways: Those pathways allow cells to respond to stimuli, and they require information to be transmitted between biomolecules through chemical modifications. The interactions within signalling pathways are often complex, and depend in interesting ways on the structures of participating molecules.

We intend to use the freedom and power of the Minecraft software environment to explore if this software affords undergraduate students a greater understanding of concepts around biochemical signalling. This is intended for students within neuroscience and other biomedical science courses in Edinburgh. We will work with students on constructing models related to our own research, which focuses on biochemical signalling pathways in post-synaptic neurons. We will also ask students to construct models to aid in their learning of concepts during their studies.

The project will be assessed through the validity of the constructions, as well as through  reports written by the student group. We hope to use this pilot as a springboard to a wider-reaching use of the software in teaching within the Zhejiang-Edinburgh Institute in Haining, as well as advocating its utility for collaborative student learning in general.

Final project report

Download final project report (PDF)