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Science Olympiad: Zinc Finger Folding Activity

Science Olympiad: Zinc Finger Folding Activity Model Classroom Set

Lending Library Update

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MSOE Model Lending Library has suspended operations. Before reopening, we need to identify safe ways of disinfecting library materials between uses. We hope to have decisions made by mid-July about which materials will be available for loan in the fall.


Teaching Points

This set of models is designed to be used to practice folding (and scoring) a protein structure in preparation for the Division C Protein Folding Event. A rubric and scoring guide are available on the CBM Science Olympiad Protein Folding website.

When proteins fold into their tertiary structures, there are often subdivisions within the protein, designated as domains, which are characterized by similar features or motifs. One such motif is the zinc finger, in which a specific domain of the protein is arranged into a "finger-like" structure where two β-sheet strands and one α-helix are positioned around a zinc ion. The zinc finger motif is commonly found in eukaryotic transcription factors, which are proteins that bind to specific sequences of DNA in order to regulate transcription.

One common class of zinc finger is the C2H2 class in which the zinc ion is coordinated (held in place) by two cysteine residues and two histidine residues. This Mini-Toober folding activity allows students to fold the polypeptide chain into the α-helix and β-sheets to produce the "finger-like" structure and to see the interaction of the sidechains of histidine and cysteine with the zinc ion. This activity can be used as a stand-alone activity, as an extension of the Amino Acid Starter Kit, or as preparation for the Science Olympiad Protein Modeling Event.

Models included in this Collection

  • 4 Zinc Finger Folding Activity Sets
    • 1 Mini-Toober
    • 1 Mini-Toober Zinc Finger Folding Map
    • 7 sidechains
    • 7 metal clips
    • 1 zinc atom
    • Colored dots


Requesting this Model

Loan Time Frame: 3 weeks


  • Use the calendar below to select a three week loan. Available times are shown in green. Select a date one week prior to the date you want the model to arrive. After selecting your time period, select checkout and complete the booking details.
  • This loan includes both delivery and return shipping time. Please make sure to plan time (approximately one week) for us to deliver the model to you. You can expect the model to arrive approximately one week following the first day of the requested loan period.


  • Use the calendar below to select a three week loan. Available times are shown in green. Select the date you want to pick up the model. After selecting your time period, select checkout and complete the booking details.

Requesting Other Models

You may schedule one copy of a model for three weeks. Due to limited resources, we are unable to send multiple copies or additional materials.

If you would like to request a loan of a different model for the same time frame you may add this to your cart. Up to three different types of models may be checked out at one time. You will need to fill out a separate request for model loans with a different time frame.


Please contact us at with any questions about the lending process or the availability of models.

Contact Margaret Franzen at or (414) 277-2824 with questions about the models, teaching resources or educational content.



Model Documentation and Instructions

Teaching Points and Inventory

Returning Models

Models must be returned on or before the due date.

Borrowers are responsible for return shipping costs. We recommend using FedEx or UPS with "two-day ground" transportation. Please make sure to get a tracking number for the shipment.

Please take care when returning models. Any damage incurred in return shipping due to improper packing will be charged to the borrower.

Ship models to:
Milwaukee School of Engineering
1000 N. Market Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3113
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