‘Fold it’- protein puzzles for everyone.

This blog post is a re-blog of the “‘Fold it’- protein puzzles for everyone” which was originally posted during 2013 on another blog site, which is no longer operational. 

Fold it is an invitation to participate in science everyday. You don’t need to be a biologist or even a scientist to participate in this ground breaking research. All you need is to enjoy puzzles and games.
What started as a way for researchers from the University of Washington to access the hard drive of home computers to help generate more time solving the possible protein folding configurations, has now developed into a very successful, crowd sourced science research project. You can read more about the history of the project here: http://fold.it/portal/info/about, and about some of it’s successes here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/project.cfm?id=foldit-protein-exploration-puzzle,
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=foldit-gamers-solve-riddle and in a journal here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v466/n7307/full/nature09304.html.
If you happen to be a biologist, you will be aware that proteins are one of the foundation molecules that make basic cell function possible. Peptides (sub units of proteins) are joined in various ways, following the instructions from RNA. There are many combinations of peptides which lead to different proteins and a range of different functions within cells and organisms. Now, if you happen to be a Biology teacher, Unit 3 and 4 of VCE Biology require students to develop a working knowledge of proteins, their structure and function. One approach to teaching such ‘abstract’ concepts is to use modelling.
There are many modelling tools available to help students conceptualise the structure and function of proteins, these include Toobers: http://www.umass.edu/molvis/toobers/, Cn3D:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Structure/CN3D/cn3d.shtml, bio-molecular 3D explorer: http://www.umass.edu/molvis/bme3d/materials/explore.html, and many resources at the Protein Data Bank (PDB) including the archive of molecule of the month: http://www.pdb.org/pdb/motm.do;jsessionid=D608F408EC87F4494ED671924DD998B8. Fold-it is another tool we can tap into.
Fold-it provides an opportunity for students (and teachers) to be directly involved in ground breaking research. In addition this game may help to develop a better understanding of the rules and nature of protein folding. It is a wonderful example of promoting the use of real life applications within, and beyond, the classroom. It is also a great way of promoting skills like problem solving and collaboration. So, will you and your students come and play?
Until next time,
Fiona T

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  All the best for the New Year ahead. It promises to hold much adventure, and I hope you enjoy sharing the official beginning of my PhD journey with me.

Here is a recipe for a quick and fun cake to make on the holidays with kids…chat about what might be making this rise with your kids when you make it as it has no eggs or dairy in this chocolate wacky cake.  It is believed to have been created during the depression/war when eggs and dairy items were rationed.

Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water


In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened. Pour into 8 x 8-inch pan. Bake at 350°F (200 degrees C should do it) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.


sourced from: http://southernfood.about.com/od/chocolatecakes/r/bl01018c.htm

I first read about this cake in ‘Apple turnover murder’ , by Joanne Fluke., I quite enjoy reading these mystery books…have a look for then at your local library for some light (and yummy) holiday reading.

All the best

Fiona T


Past Posts

May 2021
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