Bake Your Dissertation

It is classic creativity practice to consider ways to view your ideas from a new perspective or present them in new ways. It is one reason I’ve been delighted to read about science students who present core information through poetry or dance their dissertations. But I’ll admit, the first time I read about students baking their thesis or dissertation research, I thought it was a spoof. I’m as big a fan of The Great British Baking Show as anyone, but the notion of presenting serious scientific research in the form of a cake seemed a bit far-fetched—until it wasn’t.

I have not discovered where the trend started, but thus far bake-your-dissertation competitions seem to be centered in England, Ireland Australia, and New Zealand, perhaps as the Great British Baking enthusiasm spreads across the British-influenced world. You can see examples here and a list of additional competitions here. Of course, a quick search for “Bake your dissertation” or “Bake your research” will turn up more. Competitions aim at presenting research topics or key research principles in the form of baked goods. For example, this cake illustrates isotope fractionation in Antarctica.

This one illustrates cell division, using peanuts for chromosomes.

Here’s one that is interdisciplinary, since it represents the creator’s research on slam poetry. Note the diverse gummies chosen to represent participants.

If you teach at a university, you might consider a baking competition of your own. In K-12 schools, where baking may not be feasible for many students, consider a “Design a Cake” activity to illustrate a scientific principle, mathematical concept, or book character. After you share examples of awesome teaching-cake examples, students could be challenged to design one of their own. And, if some family decides to try to bring the design to fruition, perhaps you’ll all have a treat. Now, I have to search my kitchen to decide which ingredients might best represent creativity!

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