Norwich Science Festival 2018: Bakineering with Andrew Smyth

What an interesting, fun and tasty show by the 2016 Bake-Off finalist Andrew Smyth at the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth form.  He says himself on his website that “if you need a baked good engineered, I reckon I’m your man,” and Andrew did not disappoint.  Using baking to explore the world of engineering of a spacecraft in orbit as well as its re-entry to earth, I was amazed by the conjunction between the two mediums of baking ingredients and engineering materials. Having the smell of fresh honeycomb filled the room, it was out of this world.  

One part that particularly stood out to me was the was the way bridges are made with reinforced concrete. Using strawberry laces as metal rods to support the caramel bar, Andrew explored visually how the strawberry laces absorb the impact of a wait being dropped into it.  

Furthermore, this was an immersive experience for the audience. Andrew broke the fourth wall and had a two-way convocation with them. He invited young members of the audience to join him on the stage to help with experiments which was inclusive and fun. Speaking to Andrew after the event he said “I try and come up with useful analogies and I don’t really dumb the science down at all, the kids are surprisingly receptive to it. We deal with quite technical stuff and I rangled with words like oblate, some people would replace that with the conversational words and say, “oh don’t use lingo that will intimidate” I use it because it helps the explanation.” The audience were at ease and enjoyed every moment, with smiles on their faces 

I spoke to several people after the show, while they were digging into the expertly baked honeycomb and baked Alaska (I did try them and yes, they were amazing), getting their opinions, they said, “really amazing” and “presented in a really good way for young people.” “informing and entertaining.” 

Andrew Smyth was on The Great British Bake off in 2016, the last series on before switching to channel 4. He was a finalist alongside jane and winner Candice. Famed for his elaborately engineered cakes. Other than baking Andrew studied Engineering at Cambridge and now has been working for rolls Royce, researching future aircraft concepts, for 5 years.  

Overall the delicious event captured the audience, satisfied their sweet tooth whilst making them curious about the world of space, engineering and science.   

Megan Atkinson 

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