Video Challenge 2021
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2021 Video Challenge for High School Students

Molecular Mechanisms
of Drugs for Mental Disorders


Participation Guide

Step 1

Assemble your team

The team can consist of 1-4 US high school students. Each member should submit signed Parent Permission form.

Find a team advisor

If you are participating as part of a class project, your teacher will be your Team Advisor. If you would like to participate individually, find a faculty member at your school who can advise you along the way.

Designate a team captain

One person on your team should be designated as a team captain. This person will coordinate the submission of your entry and fill in the registration form (available between January 14 and April 28, 2020). The team captain should be listed as Team Member 1 on the registration form.

Step 2

Brainstorm and decide on the story

As described in The Challenge, your video should combine molecular biology and public health information to tell a coherent and impactful story.

Communicating the Science

Your video should contain a general explanation how the neuronal signal is communicated within the body. It should then focus on one mental disorder and explain how drugs can modulate the signal to alleviate the symptoms. Choose from one of the topics below:

  1. Treating anxiety disorders: drugs targeting GABAa receptor to reduce neuronal stimulation
  2. Treating schizophrenia: pharmacological antagonists targeting the dopamine receptor
  3. Treating depression: drugs targeting SERT transporters to modulate the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin
  4. Treating Alzheimer’s disease: drugs targeting the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase to stop the destruction of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

The Video Challenge Learn section contains a general overview of the topic with links to further resources.

At this step, it's also important to think about your audience. In this challenge, your target audience are fellow high school students who have similar knowledge of biology but have not studied the topic in greater detail.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science recommends to always keep in mind the 3Ms when communicating science: a good message should be Miniature, Memorable, and Meaningful.

Communicating the public health message

In its core, your story should address how life is altered by mental disorder and what can be done to encourage screening for given illness and reduce social stigma associated with mental disorders.

Your team should brainstorm many ideas at this stage and choose one that appeals to you the most. It's also important at this stage to think about the 2-minute time constraint and how much information can be communicated effectively.

Resources/downloads for this step:

Storytelling resources

Articles on communicating science effectively:

Some statistics and facts:

Step 3

Create a storyboard for your story

A storyboard is a graphic organizer that sequentially shows how the story will unfold using the key elements for visuals and audio.

The visual elements for your storyboard can be hand-drawn, but it's a good idea to plan how they will be framed in a shot. At this time, it's also a good idea to record at least a scratch version of narration/dialogs to make sure that the time allotted for each element is sufficient.

Remember, you are teaching a complex subject to your audience. Speak in an understandable, level-appropriate way and pace your narration so that it allows audiences to listen and follow along. Incorporate some breaks; after each key concept is introduced to your viewers, they will need down time to process the information.

Your storyboard can be shared with other students to get feedback and make adjustments.

Resources/downloads for this step:

Storyboard template

How to Create a Storyboard

Step 4

Create the visuals for your video

You have complete freedom for the visual style. Create animations, film footage, or add any creative components. The scoring rubric allots points for originality and creativity, so be sure you don't miss these marks.

There are only 2 requirements:

Requirement 1:
You should use an image/animation of a topic relevant protein structure from the PDB to illustrate the molecular component.

  1. The PDB IDs of example structures are listed in the Learn section, Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, Table 4. Visualization Resources will be provided by the end of December.
  2. Alternately, you can use existing PDB-101 visual resources with proper attribution:
    1. Molecule of the Month images
      Image title, PDB ID of the protein shown; Molecule of the Month image by David S. Goodsell and the RCSB PDB / CC-BY-4.0
    2. Images/animations from the Learn section
      Image caption; PDB ID of the protein shown; Image source:

Requirement 2:
You should not use any copyrighted materials in your videos. Videos using copyrighted materials will be disqualified.
If you don't create your artwork/music yourself, it's a good idea to use Public Domain materials, or materials released under the Creative Commons license to avoid copyright infringement.

Step 5

Edit your video

Use any video editor available to you to edit your video together. PDB-101 offers a basic tutorial for Blender Video Editor.

You will be uploading and sharing your video through YouTube, so the optimal composition size should be 1280px by 720px (HDTV 720).

The storytelling part should not be longer than 2 minutes. On top of that, you should include credits section including the following components:

  • Names of each team member and the name of the team advisor
  • References for your research materials
  • PDB IDs of the protein structures you are showing in your video and/or molecular images/videos attribution
  • All images/sound credits.
  • The PDB-101 branding slide

Step 6

Permission forms

If your video shows footage/image and/or voice of a person who is not a member of your team, have them, or if minor, their parents/guardians sign the Actor Release Form. Each member should also have a signed Parent Permission form. Photograph or scan the forms and have the files ready when you are ready to register for the challenge.

Step 7

Video Submission

Submit your video through April 27, 2021 at 11:59 pm PST.

If you have any questions, please email If you would like to receive monthly updates and educational news, please sign up using the button on the top.

Good luck!