What's a biocake?
Well I'm glad you asked. It's a nutrient enriched baked good. Karen Hogan and others on a research team I'm a part of are thinking about how we can introduce topics around synthetic biology, genetics and bioethics to high school students. This field is exploding in commercial and university settings and so we want to consider how we can ensure diverse learners can participate. The biocake helps us study this. Basically, students get to genetically modify a yeast cell so that it produces vitamin A intermediates. They then use those cells to bake a cake that is fortified with the vitamin. Most kids are familiar with baking and so this becomes a way to do science in a way that is not only relatable, but also edible (just kidding, they don't eat the cakes). Still, the activity becomes an interesting frame within which to explore what it means to teach these emerging fields. They sure do look and smell tasty when coming out of the toaster oven, HA!