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Others Like “Foldit: Playing a Game While Solving Protein Structures”

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Science Fair 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
Science Fair Project Idea
Can computer games be used to educate? Pick a game that incorporates educational material. There are a variety of educational computer games on the market in the areas of math, history, science, and language, as well as many simpler versions free on the Internet. Make up a test based on the subject area covered by the computer game. Have your volunteers take the test before and after playing the game. Does playing the computer game improve people's score on the test? Read more
Games_p006
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are becoming increasingly popular with consumers for things like viewing 3D pictures and videos, or for playing video games. However, dedicated gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift® and PlayStation® VR can cost hundreds of dollars. Some headsets, like Google Cardboard™, which is literally made out of folded corrugated cardboard (Figure 1), are much cheaper because they can use any smartphone as the screen. Figure 1. A Google Cardboard headset… Read more
Games_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Math can make you money! If you understand some basic math, you can make good decisions about how to keep, spend, and use your hard earned dollars. Try an experiment comparing the same balance in different types of bank accounts. How much better is a savings account than a checking account? What difference does the interest rate make? Which is better, an account that earns compound or simple interest? Can you compare the short and long term costs of borrowing money compared to saving the cash… Read more
Math_p027
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Scientists recently found that some small drugs can stop infection by the deadly Ebola virus in its tracks. Lab researchers found that these drugs bind to a protein that the Ebola virus uses to enter our cells, and this is how infection is prevented. However, this also means that the bound protein no longer functions in our cells. How might these drugs accidentally disrupt important biological processes in our bodies? What other proteins might these drugs bind to? In this science project,… Read more
BioMed_p011
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Basic understanding of what viruses, drugs, genes, and proteins are.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
How is geology important for our energy resources? Coal, oil, and natural gas are formed by geological processes over millions of years. Certain geological formations can indicate a reservoir of coal, oil, or natural gas. Also, geothermal processes can be used as an energy resource. How are these formations identified? How are the resources extracted? You can use the to access, view, and download information from geospatial databases containing a broad spectrum of data produced by the… Read more
Geo_p025
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Science Fair Project Idea
Some sequences of RNA can catalyze biochemical reactions, much like protein enzymes. These catalytic RNA sequences are called ribozymes. The function of a ribozyme depends upon the primary sequence of the RNA which folds into a 3-D structure. How do different ribozyme sequences fold? You can search for ribozyme sequences using Entrez BLAST (NCBI, 2006). Then you can use a program like MFOLD () to submit your sequence for an analysis of its predicted 3-D structures based upon thermodynamics… Read more
BioChem_p023
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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
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever known someone who had a bad reaction to a prescription drug? Although pharmaceutical companies test new drugs on a large number of people to make sure the drug works the way it is supposed to, often a small percentage of people respond differently to the drug. A person's genetics plays a large role in determining his or her response to a given drug. Our genes are made up of hundreds to millions of nucleotides of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the genetic code. If just a… Read more
BioMed_p005
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Basic understanding of what genes, DNA, and proteins are.
Material Availability After 23andMe receives your sample, your results should be ready in 6-8 weeks. Alternatively, you can do this science project using a readily available free demo account on 23andMe.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
You may know Lewis Carroll as the author of Alice in Wonderland, but did you know that in real life he was a mathematician who studied symbolic logic and logical reasoning? How can math help you solve Lewis Carroll's Logic Game? (Bogomolny, 2006) How are algorithms for solving the game Sudoku similar to solving a logic problem? (Hayes, 2006) For the super-advanced mathematical genius, try to evaluate currently available, logic-based computational tools, or design a better one!… Read more
Math_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair 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
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