Materials List: Bio-Engineering:
Making and Testing Model Proteins

Each student needs:

Each group needs:

  • Engineering Design Drawing Rubric
  • computer with Internet access, for looking at specific websites to answer worksheet questions; alternatively, conduct the research as a class using a projector

To share with the entire class:

  • (optional) capability to show the class an online website about proteins (in addition to or instead of the reference sheet), and other websites if worksheet research is done as a class

Note: Realistically, all three protein models could be made with just paper and masking tape, but the addition of materials like toothpicks, drinking straws and craft sticks gives the models more support and strength. Twine, string and paperclips are useful for connecting parts. So think of the materials list below as a suggestion; feel free to alter it, depending on supplies you may already have in your classroom. For instance, for the structural protein materials list, you could replace the drinking straws with coffee stir sticks, reduce the number or omit paperclips, and/or provide different kinds of paper.

For making structural protein models (challenge 1)

Each group needs:

  • 10 sheets of copy paper
  • 10 plastic drinking straws
  • 10 paperclips, either all small or all large
  • a few books of similar weight to use as weights for structure testing, textbooks work great; you may need as much as 200 pounds of books for the final stress testing
  • masking tape, 1 roll
  • Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions: Structural Worksheet, one per student
  • 1 ruler, for measuring height, not part of the model fabrication
  • scissors, used only as a tool, not part of the model structure

To share with the entire class (challenge 1):

  • scale, for weighing books

For making transport protein models (challenge 2)

Each group needs:

  • masking tape, 1 roll
  • string, 2 feet (~61 cm)
  • 2 paper plates, any size
  • construction or brown wrapping paper 
  • 1 paper lunch bag
  • saran/plastic wrap, 2 feet (~61 cm)
  • 10 Popsicle/craft sticks or wooden cocktail sticks
  • 10 wooden toothpicks, either flat or round style
  • Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions: Transport Worksheet, one per student
  • 4 mini marshmallows, for testing only, not part of model structure
  • scissors, used only as a tool

To share with entire class (challenge 2):

  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • a three-stage testing area composed of an oxygen (mini marshmallow) dispenser, dispensing station (lungs) and dumping station (cells), made in advance by the teacher, such as four cardboard boxes: a smaller one with holes (to hold the marshmallows and shake them out), a bigger “lungs” box underneath it (to catch stray marshmallows), a smaller box inside the big box to serve as an elevated stand, and a fourth “cells” box where students dump their models after counting the number of captured marshmallows; see examples in Figure 4 and the Procedure section for details
  • scrap paper, marker and tape, to label two boxes “LUNGS” and “CELLS”

For making defense protein models (challenge 3)

Each group needs:

  • masking tape, 1 roll
  • twine or string, 1 foot (~30 cm)
  • construction or brown wrapping paper
  • aluminum foil, 1 foot (~30 cm)
  • saran wrap, 1 foot (~30 cm)
  • 1 paper bag
  • 1 or 2 balloons, small or medium size
  • 10 Popsicle sticks
  • Protein Shapes Affect Their Functions: Defense Worksheet, one per student
  • scissors, used only as a tool

To share with entire class (for challenge 3):

  • shredded paper, placed on a 2 x 4-foot area of the floor; such as paper from the recycling bin run through a cross-shredder (not strips)
  • scale or triple beam balance, for measuring mass of paper and/or protein models