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OnScreen DNA Model

for iPad & for iPhone & iPod Touch

OnScreen Science, Inc., 46 Wallace St., Somerville, MA 02144 — 800-617-6416 — apinfo@onscreen-sci.com

Painlessly teach anyone—including yourself—the must-know details of how DNA works in 3D. OnScreen DNA for Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X.


"The activities are relatively easy to perform, and the animation quality makes the software extremely engaging. The program is easy to navigate, and includes impressive graphics. As more sophisticated details of the DNA and related molecules become essential for further understanding of biological function, OnScreen DNA makes a solid contribution to the repertoire of high quality classroom technology."
José Vázquez, New York University, in The American Biology Teacher, September 2006



Not too complicated...

OnScreen DNA's model of the double helix only includes the essentials for understanding the basic three-dimensional structure: sugar-phosphates, nucleotides, and the chemical bonds between them. Strand polarity is essential and is indicated.

Showing DNA-component detail at the molecular level allows the double helix structure to be grasped much more easily than if every atom is shown. It also makes it clear that DNA nucleotides differ from each other only in their nitrogenous bases. The points of difference between RNA and DNA nucleotides are also made obvious. The critical hydrogen and phosphodiester bonds stand out clearly in OnScreen DNA's model.

And OnScreen DNA doesn't use a "space filling" model that obscures the double helical structure by the very fact of filling in the space.

Not too simple...

All of OnScreen DNA's interactive simulations are shown in three dimensions.

Just about any animation of DNA processes that you find on the internet or on a CD will show the DNA as a two-dimensional ladder that easily separates. Messenger RNA and DNA daughter strands are then shown to be made as 2D ladders.

Ladder animations have some value, but they do sweep the 3D reality under the rug. Breaking the bonds between paired nucleotides is not enough. If a strand is to serve as a template for constructing another nucleic acid, it has to be untangled from its partner strand by unwinding, which requires DNA rotation through the action of a helicase enzyme. OnScreen DNA shows this.

It's all too common to see book illustrations and even hardware models showing messenger RNA construction as taking place by 2D ladder pairing, even when the DNA is shown as a double helix. But messenger RNA is constructed as one strand of a double helix paired with the template DNA. OnScreen DNA gets it right.

Ways you can benefit

  • Install OnScreen DNA in your computer lab for year-round access by students and classes.
  • Install it on one or two classroom computers; students take turns under your guidance.
  • Use it for classroom demonstrations or lecture hall projections. Simulations can be paused.

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