Playing With the Building Blocks of Life

DNA, RNA, and proteins are literally the stuff of life. These building blocks need to be stacked just so or things can go awry. Help researchers twist, fold, push and pull these tiny molecules into various shapes by playing these fun games. Or, let your computer fold proteins while you sleep!

Here are this week’s featured projects on SciStarter. Interested in learning about more citizen science projects? Try our Project Finder, which connects you to 600+ curated projects around the world!

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Help Stanford University scientists studying Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and many cancers by simply running a piece of software on your computer. Get started!

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Phylo is a game in which participants align sequences of DNA by shifting and moving puzzle pieces. From such an alignment, biologists can trace the source of certain genetic diseases. Get started!

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Foldit is a revolutionary new computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins. Get started!

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EteRNA is a revolutionary new game scored by nature. You design RNA molecules, and we synthesize top designs and score them based on experimental results!Get started!

If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, e-mail Want even more? Subscribe to our newsletter!

The SciStarter Weekly Featured Projects are curated by Jenna Lang.

Categories: Citizen Science, Newsletter

About the Author


Lily Bui

Although she holds dual non-science bachelors’ degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine, Lily has long harbored a proclivity for the sciences. A daughter of an engineer and an accountant who also happen to be a photographer and musician, respectively, Lily grew up on the nexus between science and art. Lily has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served a year in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter in California; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. She currently works with WGBH-TV Boston and Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Cambridge. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns (mostly to entertain herself). // Tweets @dangerbui