Professor Uses Popular Video Game to Aid Their Teaching

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Assistant professor, B. Reeja Jayan, at Carnegie Mellon University is using Minecraft to aid her students with material science properties.  She is using this popular video game as a learning opportunity through classroom activities, homework, and is even basing their final projects around using the game.  Minecraft is a sandbox-world building game that allows the players to build structures within the randomly-generated world.  She challenged her students to try to understand how materials would work together in a real-world situation, and how their creations can be changed with different processing techniques learned throughout the class.

Jayan is encouraging students to use the classroom server to build their final Minecraft projects on, and to present the projects in such a way that the materials used can be interactive.  “This course teaches students how materials have specific internal arrangements of atoms and how processing techniques can change this structure and lead to differences in properties like mechanical behavior and strength,” says Jayan.  Some of the final projects included games where players were asked to build materials with the techniques they’ve learned, replicas of factories, and museums formed from the creator’s imagination.  Students in the class loved that they were able to visualize concepts in a three dimensional space, and enjoyed the creative liberty they could take on their assignments.  It kept the students engaged and motivated them to learn.

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