Protein Biochemistry is FUN?

It is at the Stony Brook University Protein Modeling Challenge when high school students compete to build models illustrating the link between protein structure and function.

We choose the target protein from The Molecule of the Month feature at the Protein Data Bank, focusing on a single protein file and associated paper, such as insulin in 2009 and Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in 2010.  The students are responsible for studying the paper and collecting background information; their creativity and understanding is demonstrated by the model they build and an essay.  On the day of the competition, the teams build another model and complete a short exam to demonstrate their mastery of the material.

We award prizes for first, second and third place.  In addition we have a “Peoples’ Choice” category for which the students choose the winner. 

The models are evaluated for their accuracy by teams of judges consisting of a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Science Teaching program (MAT) and a professional research scientist.  The judging teams are integral to meeting our goal to improve future science education by bringing together research scientists and future teachers.

This program is the result of a productive collaboration among the Science Education faculty at Stony Brook University, research scientists from Astellas Pharma US, Stony Brook University research faculty, and enthusiastic teachers from the participating school districts.   The program was adapted from a program created by the Center for Biomolecular Modeling at The Milwaukee School of Engineering (

When we started the Stony Brook University Protein Challenge we hoped to educate students and teachers about the cool stuff proteins do.  We have been very pleased that this has succeeded to the extent that nine schools have gone on to develop extracurricular programs in protein modeling.  We are most pleased to see the excitement and sharing that this program has fostered among high school students, graduate students, teachers and scientists.


For questions, please contact:
Joan Kiely at

Click here for the registration form


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