1997-98
NEW MEXICO
HIGH SCHOOL
SUPERCOMPUTING
CHALLENGE

Interim Report


Team Number: 083
School Name: Navajo Preparatory School
Area of Science: Genetics
Project Title: Dino DNA
Project Abstract: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/abstracts/083.html
Interim Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/interims/083.html
Final Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports/083/finalreport.html

Our group was first interested in the topic of Zoology at our first meeting with our sponser. We started off the project by brainstorming major science areas, such as Zoology etc. We then looked within this topic heading. We voted upon subjects within Zoology and came up with a few topics in the field, including Ichthyology, Celluology, Paleontology, and Ornithology. We gathered partial information of each, based o the interest of the group members. We decided to go into the internet, as a group and look into other abstracts. This coarse of action did help us by giving us examples of ideas. We looked in homepages of two differnt universities, New Mexico State, and Arizona State. The homepages helped us narrow down. We also planned on seeing the Biology instructor to help us narrow our topic or perhaps look at another area. That was our first interest. We then took a trip to Glorietta, New Mexico and had a chance to meet with a scientist. We spoke to differnet people and Scientist. Our group then met with Dr. Thomas Kirby.

Our team met with Dr. Thomas Kirby(Meet the Scientist) at Glor about dinosaurs. We were wandering if it were possible to take dinosaur DNA from fossilized bones or eggs. Dr. Kirby told us that DNA was pretty complicated and that maybe we could just look at how replacing one gene at a time. We could also think about seeing how long(how many generations)it would take to have a mutation occur on just the right gene that would make dinosaurs smart or strong or whatever more able to survive longer. WE sort of decided that it would make more sense to go for one gene at a time after Dr. Kirby explained to us about random number generators. We could decide that a smart gene would consist of several amino acid strings which are made up of several chemicals. Each one of these pieces of DNA could be represented by a four letter sequence such as ACTH we could use a random(letter combination)generator for this combination to see how long it would take to reproduce it or its matching protein. Then, when we found out how long it took to find one particular protein we could look for a differnet protein and then another. WE could expand this model a protein chainlong enough to be called a gene and call it the smart gene or strength gene that the dinosaurs would have needed to survive. That was one idea. The other approach was that we could look at a short piece of dinosaur DNA with a break in it, and try to predict by looking at the rest of it what the missing part should look like. Then we could create entire genes from a dinosaur and modeled using that bunch of proteins to modify lizard DNA and maybe make a real dinosaur(computer model, anyway)

We have been looking on the internet for inromation we have found tons on DNA and we are overwhelmed. We found lots of background information about DNA, RNA, Genetic studies, Genetic replication, and we found some pictures of DNA and so forth for our presentation.

We know that we need a random number generator to use in our C++ code to model the dinosaur DNA protein chains that we are going to "replicate" or generate in the case of missing pieces of DNA. We e-mailed David Kratzer for a random number generator and he sent us the computer address(path) where we could copy one.

So far we have an idea of what our program going to look like, but we have only written three, little C++ programs. We have learned cin and cout and # include for math libraries and we are learning about loops right now. We have a lot to learn yet. WE need to learn a lot more about programming C++. Are next program we are learing about loops. Our teacher says that there are three kinds that we need to learn about. And the other big thing we need to do is to decide which route we are going to take: missing DNA piece or smart gene.

We need to meet more often, and we need to find an advisor. We thought we had one but they lived too far away. We are not doing very good at e-mail, and we are very slow. So we are trying to find someone here in Farmington at San Juan College. We hope to have an advisor by next week.

Team Members:

Sponsoring Teacher(s):

Project Advisor(s):


New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge
http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us