Supervisor Resources

Overview of the Event

The Protein Modeling Event is a Science Olympiad event developed by the MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling. To compete successfully, participants will explore the CBM Participant Resources and be able to:

If you are a regional or state event supervisor, contact your State Science Olympiad Director to coordinate ordering of judging models and test materials.

There are three parts to the event

Part 1: Pre-Build Model

40% of Final Score

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, or with found materials of the participant's choosing such as KwikTwist tie-down ropes.
  • The same pre-build model will be used at each level of the competition (invitational, regional and state). 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: Jmol Exploration

30% of Final Score

The purpose of the Jmol exploration component of this year’s event is to allow students to demonstrate their skill in using Jmol to manipulate and explore a pdb file, for the purpose of learning something about the protein.

This portion of the competition is worth 30% of a team's final score for the event.

Students will be asked to provide written answers to two kinds of questions in this Part 2 component:

  • Some questions will ask about the structure of the protein being explored. Examples of these types of questions might be:
    • How many alpha helices are there in the structure?
    • What is amino acid #23,…and what other amino acid sidechain does it interact with?
  • Some questions will be asked about the pdb file for this protein. Links will be provided to appropriate pages displaying information for this pdb file entry on the Protein Data Bank web site. Examples of questions might include:
    • At what university do the researchers who determined this structure work?
    • What are the x,y,z coordinates of the alpha carbon of Arg56?

Part 3: Written Exam

30% of Final Score

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 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 regional and state to national. It will be created using a purchased "pre-build" Mini-Toober kit from 3D Molecular Designs, available at, 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 protein will be explored at each level of the on-site competition, from regional and state to national.

If you are a regional or state event supervisor, contact your State Science Olympiad Director to coordinate ordering of judging models and test materials.

Invitational Events

While a specific set of event materials (rubrics, exams, on-site Jmol Explorations, etc.) are not developed for invitational events, some states decide to develop their own materials. Click Here for some suggestions on how to create an invitational on-site Jmol Exploration.

Onsite Visualization Environment

During the competition period, each team is expected to create an onsite model using a digital Onsite Visualization Environment. Event supervisors should make sure that their event location can properly run the digital onsite visualization environment at each student work station.

This environment can be accessed in three ways: online, through a locally running webpage, or through a stand-alone version of Jmol. Below is a short description along with a sample for each of these three options, which should allow event supervisors to test their event location and confirm that the onsite visualization environment will run correctly.

All files for the onsite visualization environments will be provided as a .zip download link. This link will be sent to the email addresses provided to us when requesting materials, as well as on a printed piece of paper included with the onsite kits and judging materials that are shipped to event supervisors.

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 or NMR analysis. 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, called the Molecule of the Month. 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.

Protein Modeling Event Gallery

This Simple Photo Gallery highlights some successful pre-build and on-site models from last year's competition.

Contact Information

The Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Event is part of 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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