Fold a Protein
Fold a Protein
Fold a ProteinIntroduce your students to protein folding with Fold-It, a free scientific computer program! This fun game uses the amino acid coding from real proteins and follows the Rosetta mathematical algorithm to calculate energy scores.
1. The students will fold proteins using Fold-It.
2. The students will calculate energy scores while folding proteins.
3. The students will reflect on their computer experimentation in a lab report format.
Computers with Internet Access
Ask the students what they know about proteins. Use common proteins like hemoglobin and collagen to show the students the importance of proteins. Then, introduce the concept of protein folding.
1. Download Fold-It at http://fold.it/portal/
This program is a free, well respected program.
2. Work through Fold-it tutorials with the students. These tutorials show the basic moves in the game such as wiggle backbone, shake sidechains, and remove clashes.
3. Pick an online, beginner fold-it competition that the students can enter. For instance, one of the recent competitions challenged users to fold the myoglobin protein. Let the students work in teams of 2 to compete against users worldwide.
4. Each students should write a lab report with an introduction, methods, results, and discussion section. This lab report should be focused on the purpose of Fold-It, the methods the student used while solving the protein folding in the competition, and the applications of the Fold-It game.
Students can be assessed using their global ranking in the game and their final lab report.
Students would work in teams of two during the Fold-It competition. The students will be competing against students in their class and against students across the world (global competition on internet).
Download the Fold-It game (http://fold.it/portal/ ) on student computers.
Learner Reflection: The students should reflect on their work in the discussion section of the lab report.
Teacher Reflection: The teacher should use the lab reports to see what the students learned in this project.
Students in 9th or 10th grade biology
Our bodies need so many different proteins to function properly. Students are usually taught that proteins are complex, and this game really allows the students to visualize the complexity of proteins. The most amazing thing about Fold-It is that ANYONE can play this game. You don’t need to have a lot of background knowledge about proteins to solve the structure of a protein. However, once you spend some time playing the game, you begin to learn a lot of information about proteins.