Biology instructor, Shelly Perry, added a culinary twist to her Biology lab recently as students were placed into groups and created cell cakes. In fact, some might describe her latest teaching style as, “taking the cake!”
Perry baked a round cake for each group and provided all of the essentials—utensils, frosting, decorating items--for creating a scientific model of a cell for discussion. Students were also encouraged to bring their own decorating ingredients.
“This is a fun time for students to break away from traditional book learning; and it helps with building memory skills,” Perry said.
Students received grades for their cell cakes worth 50 points. In teams, the students worked quickly, frosting their cake, some adding green dye if theirs was a plant cell. Students then chose various pieces of candy to represent all the parts of a cell—nucleus, nucleolus, lysosome, membrane, etc.—placing the different candy pieces on the cakes to create models of either plant or animal cells.
Taffy was a popular choice for depicting cell membranes, while cherry licorice was often chosen for golgi and green jelly beans were frequently used for mitochondrion. One team broke the “candy barrier” by using bacon strips for endoplasmic reticulum. Students really got creative when portraying the cell nucleus, with choices ranging from a giant Reeces cup to a large glob of cotton candy!
Students were graded based on their knowledge of each organelle, not only identifying each part, but also describing the function. Science instructors, Br. Charles Manning and Mrs. Betty Wallace assisted with the testing of each group. This is probably the only science experiment the students will ever be tempted to eat!