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Project Idea
How a biological system functions is a consequence of the 3-D structures of biological macromolecules like proteins and protein complexes. Proteins can be categorized into different protein families based upon sequence, structure, and function. Typically, proteins in the same family have similar biochemical functions. You can investigate the structure of a protein by using protein databases (Entrez Protein, SwissProt, PDB) and 3-D computational models. You can compare the structures of… Read more
BioChem_p021
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Advanced biology course, or willingness to read up on such topics extensively.
Material Availability A computer with Internet access is necessary for this project.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Some proteins are soluble in aqueous solutions and some are not. Insoluble proteins can be a problem because the proteins can form large aggregates in solution which are difficult to purify, crystallize, and use in experiments. Compare the amino acid sequence and 3-D structures of some soluble and insoluble proteins (Berman, 2000). Is the structure polar or non-polar, and how might this affect solubility? How do detergents make an insoluble protein more soluble? Investigate how this… Read more
BioChem_p018
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Basic introduction to chemistry
Material Availability A computer with Internet access is necessary for this project.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the… Read more
Geo_p026
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
How do you turn a 2-dimentional piece of paper into a 3-dimentional work of art? Origami, the classical art of Japanese paper folding, is loaded with mathematical themes and concepts. What are the common folds in origami, and how do they combine to create 3-dimentional structure? Can you classify different types of origami into classes based upon the types of folds they use? Can you show Kawasaki's Theorem, that if you add up the angle measurements of every other angle around a point, the sum… Read more
Math_p032
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Project Idea
Unlocking the three-dimensional structure of a protein is crucial to help scientists understand how it functions in our bodies and how it can cause devastating diseases if it becomes disrupted or interacts in the wrong way. However, figuring out the structure of a protein in three-dimensional space can be very challenging. Proteins are the functional units of our cells, and every protein is made up of a long chain of amino acids. Amino acids come in different shapes and sizes, and they have… Read more
BioMed_p008
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Understanding of what proteins are.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
The DNA in our cells contains our "blueprints," but it's the proteins in our cells that do most of the work. The Human Genome Project has allowed us to start reading the blueprints, but we still don't understand what most of the proteins do. This is a fairly advanced project that explores ways of identifying the function of unknown proteins. Read more
Genom_p002
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites High School Biology, excellent computer skills
Material Availability None required
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
If you live in a humid environment, then you know that summer is not only hot, it is downright muggy. You can test the effect of humidity on temperature by measuring the temperature and humidity in your bathroom while running the shower. You can also use historical weather data to compare average seasonal temperatures in humid (e.g., Florida) and dry (e.g., Arizona) regions. How does humidity relate to temperature? Pressure? Why do humid environments tend to be coastal or tropical? How does… Read more
Weather_p017
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
The Game of Life is the invention of the mathematician John Conway. It is a cellular automaton, consisting of a grid of squares that turn "on" or "off" depending on simple mathematical rules that involve neighboring squares. Depending on how the grid is first set up (i.e., the initial conditions), various interesting patterns appear. Can you write a Game of Life program (in JavaScript or any other computer language of your choice)? Can you think of ways to alter the rules that result in… Read more
CompSci_p030
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Predict how tall you can build a tower using only two sheets of newspaper as building material. You can't use tape, glue, staples, or anything else, just two sheets of newspaper. You can tear, bend, cut, or fold the newspaper. Try it out and see how close you can come to your prediction. Can you beat your prediction? As you're building, you may come up with ideas to make a better tower. Try them out! (It's not like the materials are expensive!) Here are some variations you might want to… Read more
CE_p016
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Tornadoes are a very destructive weather phenomenon that is very hard to predict. Certain weather conditions can indicate if a tornado is likely to occur, but the path that the tornado will take is completeley unpredictable. Storm chasers are people who chase tornadoes and try to capture them on film or video. They often have a sense of predicting where and when a tornado will strike, but the best images are also due to a bit of luck and survival instinct. Even though tornadoes are… Read more
Weather_p024
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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