runpengliu wrote:1. At Nationals, is it likely there will dock points based on whether your helices are 3_10?
You should try to make sure that your helices always have the right number of turns, as this is definitely something that appears on the rubric (or, at least, has appeared on the rubric in past years), but you do not have to mark them separately as 3/10 helices – nowhere in the event has the phrase "3/10 helices" ever been mentioned, and there's no way to distinguish them in the older version of Jmol they use for the build environments.
2. Do they count Cys285 and His237 as TWO different creative additions if I explained the role of each residue separately on my note card? (I'm lazy-- trying to get as many free points as possible haha
Think of it this way: if a judge is looking at each of them as a separate creative addition, you're likely to get fewer points for each of them, because they're not as good creative additions separately as together. Basically, just add a bunch of stuff to your model and explain it on your card; don't worry about delineating what constitutes "one creative addition".
runpengliu wrote:3. Would coloring the H-bonds responsible for the dimerization of Chain A and B count as "creative additions" if I explained why those are important?
If it's important to the relationship between structure and function in caspase-3, and you explain why, it counts as a creative addition. Whether you get points for it is another story; that depends on whether the judge can follow your explanation and agrees that yes, what you've shown is important.
runpengliu wrote:4. Will it count as a creative addition if I attach something to the active site and just say on my note card that it's the Asp-x-x-Asp recognition site. Or does it have to be more detailed (like part of a real protein that gets cleaved by caspase-3) to receive credit
As far as most judges are concerned, it does not have to be incredibly detailed to receive credit (and unfortunately, some do not even give more credit for adding more detail). I don't know what the Nationals judges will have to say on this issue. In general, more detail = more points, but I have seen exceptions to this rule, with less detailed models getting more points (presumably because they showed the big-picture idea more clearly).