Teachers can use this game as a research assignment or to challenge very advanced students as they progress through their independent studies. This is best used with students who show potential in the areas of biochemistry, engineering, planning, and/or logic. Students who do not have above-average spatial relations and multitasking skills will get stuck and frustrated often.Continue reading Show less
Foldit is filled with protein-folding puzzles whose solutions have challenged scientists for decades. Powered by the creative minds of Foldit's players, the University of Washington is pushing scientific research into the properties of proteins. By solving an increasingly difficult set of puzzles that use actual scientific data, students explore the limits of protein expression and mutation, find new ways to fold proteins into new shapes, and contribute to scientific research that may lead to scientific breakthroughs in treating disease and other applications.
It's a puzzle game at its core with a rich scientific context that might not be readily understandable by most students. For students to contextualize what they're doing and understand how it helps science, they should approach the game with an existing understanding of proteins. There's a long but mostly unguided set of tutorials that are helpful, but will likely require students to search the community-created resources to understand why the changes they make are helpful or not. In this way, Foldit requires an inquisitive, self-motivated, and clever learner with some gaming and puzzle-solving experience. For that type of student, Foldit could be a wonderful experience that builds their problem-solving, critical-thinking, and communication skills. They'll also learn how to persevere and juggle multiple tasks.
Key Standards Supported
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.
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