VI team unlocks DNA study

Successful outing: Choong (in white) and his team members posing with their awards.

STUDYING deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) structures is an essential component of being a biology student.

However, the lack of visual literacy among students in this field has led to misconceptions in their learning.

Visual literacy, in this context, refers to the ability to correctly draw, label and describe biological molecules based on the three-dimensional (3D) double helix model of DNA developed by James Watson and Francis Crick.

Cognisant of this problem, 10 Form Six students at Pusat Tingkatan Enam Victoria Institution (PTE VI) devised a solution that recently won them recognition at the Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) 2024.

Led by Ivan Choong, the team, comprising Irffan Iskandar, Chang Guo Cheng, Chen Yi Xing, How Yu Xing, Nicole Lai Wen Ting, Wang Hui Xin, Wong Ri Hong, Ng Jia Khai and Goh Yi Fong, clinched both the Gold Award and the Special Award in the Asian Youth Innovation Awards’ Youth category.

Their winning innovation, titled “Unlocking DNAme2: 3D DNA Plastic/Paper Model with Augmented Reality Application”, is an educational tool aimed at revolutionising the teaching and learning of DNA structures.

“Many educators have tried using models, videos and simulations in schools but the problems in DNA structure learning persist, on top of it being pricey.

“We want to improve student learning and create a tool that is more cost-friendly to users,” Choong told StarEdu.

“Our innovation is a form of technology that uses paper to make a DNA model which includes every detail of DNA. This helps students learn in a fun and easy way by learning visually from the DNAme paper model,” he said.

The 18-year-old added that the unique aspect of the team’s innovation is the incorporation of augmented reality (AR) technology.

“Each DNAme paper model is embedded with a QR code which, when scanned, transports users into an immersive AR environment where they can explore and interact with a virtual DNA structure.

“Students can label various components, aiding in better comprehension and retention of complex biological concepts,” he said.

Held at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur from Feb 22 to Feb 24, the MTE saw innovators from across the globe presenting their innovations to researchers and experts.

The PTE VI team expressed joy and pride at their achievement, noting that the effort and long hours they had put into the project – even working on it during the Chinese New Year holidays – had paid off.

Choong said winning the Special Award was especially gratifying as it was bestowed upon a single outstanding innovation selected by independent award jurors and conferred by renowned international inventors’ associations and organisations.

The team’s Special Award was presented by the Indonesian Invention & Innovation Promotion Association.

“This is a major achievement for us Victorians as it marks a stepping stone for the institution’s science and innovation,” he said.

Reflecting on this experience, Choong expressed gratitude for the guidance provided by their teacher advisers, Teoh Chern Zhong and Zufrizah Aryiati Mahammad Fazim at PTE VI, and Dr Muhamad Ikhwan Mat Saad at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) Faculty of Mathematics and Science.

He also underscored the universality of science.

“Science shouldn’t be limited specifically for Science stream students only but should be accessible to anyone who shows genuine interest in the subject,” he asserted.

He encouraged students to discover a fun learning method that will ignite their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“Maintain an open mindset towards any subject and be brave to ask questions whenever necessary,” he said.

Hoi Kei, 22, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For updates on the BRATs programme, go to

With the theme of the article in mind, carry out the following English language activities.

1Coming up with an innovation starts with identifying a problem that needs a solution. What is a problem often encountered by students that you would like a solution for? Discuss with your friends. Then, brainstorm a solution for it.

2What are some fun learning methods that can spark students’ interest in STEM? Work with your friends to create a poster listing at least three methods to motivate students to explore STEM subjects.

The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme promotes the use of English language in primary and secondary schools nationwide. For Star-NiE enquiries, email

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