Overview of the Event

In order to successfully compete in the Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Competition, a thorough understanding of the event is needed. This section will introduce the overarching structure of the event, including information on:

★ Please Note: The was an incorrect version of the 2017-2018 season rules for the Protein Modeling Event posted to the Science Olympiad home website (https://www.soinc.org/). Please check your copy of the rules to make sure you are using the most up-to-date version.


There are three parts to the event

Part 1: Pre-Build Model

Every team must submit a pre-build model of a specific protein structure. The pre-build model is worth 40% of a team's final score for the event.

  • The pre-build model will be created using a purchased "pre-build" Mini-Toober kit from www.3dmoleculardesigns.com, or with found materials of the participants' choosing such as KwikTwist tie-down ropes.
  • The same pre-build model will be used at each level of the competition (invitational, regional, state and national). Participants will take their pre-build model home after each event.
  • The pre-build model must be impounded prior to the beginning of the event (usually the morning of the event).
  • The pre-build model should be submitted with a 4"x6" card with a written description of the model's colors and creative additions, addressing what, how, and why. Note that the format of this description has changed from prior years. Check the official rules for details.

Part 2: On-Site Model

Every team will create an on-site model of a second specific protein structure on the day of the event. The on-site model is worth 30% of a team's final score for the event.

  • The Mini-Toober and any additional materials for the on-site model will be provided to each team at the time of the competition.
  • Each level of the competition (invitational, regional and state) will have its own specific protein structure for the on-site model. Participants will be assigned the specific regions of the protein that they need to model at the event and will not be allowed to take their on-site models home after each event.
  • Participants will only have the competition time period to complete their on-site protein model.

Part 3: On-Site Exam

Each team will complete an on-site exam during the competition. Exams may cover the protein topic being discussed, three-dimensional structure of related proteins, the PDB.org Molecule of the Month, or basic concepts of protein structure and biochemistry. The on-site written exam is worth 30% of a team's final score for the event.

  • Carefully reviewing the "Participant Resources" on this website is the best way to prepare for the on-site exam.
  • Participants will only have the competition time period to complete their on-site exam.

Levels of the Competition

The Protein Modeling Event is available at the following levels of the Science Olympiad competition:

The same pre-build model will be used at each level of the competition, from invitational and regional to state . It will be created using a purchased "pre-build" Mini-Toober kit from 3D Molecular Designs, available at www.3dmoleculardesigns.com, or with found materials of the participants' choosing. At the end of each competition, participants will be allowed to pick up their pre-build model to use in future competition levels. It is expected that participants will continually improve upon and fine-tune their pre-build model as they work up through the levels of the competition.

A new and unique on-site model and on-site exam will be provided at each level of the competition, from invitational and regional to state. Participants will be provided the on-site exam, on-site Mini-Toober and specific protein information for the on-site model at the beginning of each competition and will not be allowed to take their on-site models home after the competition.


Additional Background Information


The Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad is a rigorous, interscholastic competition of over 30 events covering the disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers and technology. For over 25 years, the Science Olympiad Mission Statement has been to improve student interest in science through competition and by emphasizing problem solving and understanding science concepts, through hands-on, minds-on constructivist learning.


The Protein Data Bank

The Protein Data Bank is an online archive that contains the three-dimensional coordinates for thousands of structures of proteins. These three-dimensional structure files (known as PDB Files) are determined using X-ray diffraction, NMR or cryoEM. The files are created by giving each atom in a protein a specific set of X, Y, Z coordinates in 3D space. All protein structures that will be used and modeled in the Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Event are based on free PDB files from the Protein Data Bank.


The Molecule of the Month

The PDB Molecule of the Month has a monthly feature written by the molecular illustrator David Goodsell. Each month's article focuses on a specific protein, describing its structure and function. All protein topics used in the Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Event are from past Molecule of the Month articles. Teams are expected to study the articles related to this year's proteins. Links to appropriate Molecule of the Month articles are found throughout the Protein Modeling Event resources.


Protein Modeling Event Gallery

This Simple Photo Gallery highlights some successful pre-build and on-site models from previous competitions.


Contact Information

The Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Event is developed by the MSOE Center for Biomolecular Modeling. Feel free to contact us with questions regarding the program, resource information on our Contact Us page.



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