Hands-on DNA

For my Masters project I combined my experience with DNA and software development with my interests in VR and science education. The result was Hand-on DNA.

Hands-on DNA is a 30 minute VR learning experience that teaches university students about DNA. To learn about the true scale of the molecule, students experience shrinking from normal to sub-microscopic size. Then they’re taken through five learning exercises in which they physically deconstruct and reconstruct a strand of DNA.

You can download and play Hands-on DNA from the releases page of the open-source GitHub repository.

Project Highlights

  • I gained a year of experience in graphics development for VR using Unity and C#.
  • I ran a development team with two research assistants to implement my design, using a pseudo-agile kanban system and project management tools like Trello and version control.
  • The learning exercises and environment were informed by research into the latest pedagogy for digital spaces.
  • I designed and ran a user study to evaluate the impact of Hands-on DNA on first year Biology students. The results were very positive, and are working towards publication.
  • I built a second version of Hands-on DNA for outreach, and have taken it to multiple events like the 2021 MOTAT STEM Fair.
  • By speaking about this project I won runner-up in the University of Auckland 3-Minute Thesis competition.
  • Hands-on DNA was also featured in the 2021 inSCight magazine from the Faculty of Science.


Introduction to
Hands-on DNA, including shrinking from normal to
sub-microscopic scale.

Interactive learning exercises about the structure of DNA, using scale models of the molecule.

My 3-Minute Thesis talk about Hands-on DNA