Creativity may not be a term associated with a laboratory setting or a profession in science. If asked to identify creative individuals, most responses may generally list a range of painters, actors, playwrights or singers – Vincent van Gogh, William Shakespeare or Billie Eilish, rather than Albert Einstein or Marie Curie, who are often linked to the development of theories, compliancy with scientific methods, research, reporting and carefully measuring accurate results.
The words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” reminds us that whilst we should create our problems rationally, we need to apply a creative approach to solve them. The recent ‘DIY Gingerbread Lab Competition,’ organised by Thermo Fisher Scientific demonstrated how these concepts go hand-in-hand. Much like a scientific experiment, which may present a scenario that requires effective problem-solving, creative thinking outside the box was crucial for the participants, who had to put together an edible ‘day in the life’ representation of their lab.
Budding scientist and daughter of Catherine North, Business Development Manager of our Perth Laboratory, Jessica drew from her visits to MPL Laboratories and school activities to put together her lab bench from a bespoke DIY gingerbread lab kit.
Despite the additional obstacle of the gingerbread being split on arrival, Jessica remained patient and determined as she tackled this and other challenges concerning construction and stability to eventually erect a freestanding laboratory bench. A sugar overload of royal icing, fruit jellies, PEZ and liquorice allsorts were used to create the final detail and adorn the bench with books, a conical flask and other items essential for microbiological analysis and testing.
Whilst the gingerbread lab bench and equipment does not meet Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and general safety rules, the bench definitely hit the ‘delicious’ rating on the foodie barometer. We congratulate Jessica on a great job and look forward to hearing about her future projects!
Check out below to learn what was involved for Jessica to put together the gingerbread lab bench.
What was Involved?
1. Bespoke DIY gingerbread lab kit arrives.
The gingerbread was split on arrival, which presented an additional challenge.
2. Construction begins.
A good and strong foundation is key to any construction project. Considering that the cabinet area would be under stress from the weight of the workbench and upper shelving area, there needed to be sufficient resistance to avoid further cracking or total collapse of the already weak gingerbread.
3. Trial and error.
Patience, trial and error and the ability to quickly think of new ways to approach any challenges that arose ensured the eventual success of the bench's construction.
4. Nearly there.
The icing was the 'glue' that helped keep the structure together. Royal icing was placed along the edges of the gingerbread pieces. These pieces were then carefully joined together and gently held in place until the icing started to harden.
5. Lots of colour!
A sweet tooth's heaven, fruit jellies, PEZ and liquorice allsorts were used to create books, a conical flask and other items that are typically featured in a lab.
6. Gingerbread lab bench complete!
Voilà, the gingerbread lab bench is ready to enter the competition. Even though this was not a winning entry, it was a great learning experience. Other entries including the winner can be found at the Thermo Fisher Scientific Australia website.