Columbus City Schools Students Bake Up their Final Project for Otterbein Summer Course

Posted Jul 01, 2021

For Columbus City Schools (CCS) students in Otterbein’s Bridge to College summer program, baking isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lesson about biochemistry and college success — part of a monthlong course that culminated in a bake-off on July 1, 2021. 

For the past six years, Otterbein has hosted the Bridge to College summer program, giving students an opportunity to experience college courses and life on campus. This year, 12 students from eight different CCS high schools attended two classes each day, four days a week, throughout June. Students received a Dell laptop with funds donated by Huntington Bank, as well as bus and Uber passes to help with traveling to and from campus.  

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The program combines two courses, a biochemistry course supported by a college strategies course. These classes integrate with each other so students can learn ways to be successful in college and how to best understand college level academics. 

“The integration of these two classes work to make the students excited about the possibilities college can provide,” said Jen Bechtold, assistant dean for student success. “It’s all about extending our campus community to the Columbus metro area, welcoming students and providing them the tools to flourish at whatever institution they choose to attend.” 

The main course this summer was “Biochemistry is a Piece of Cake,” taught by biochemistry faculty member Emily Tansey. As part of the STEM-focused curriculum, students looked at how these scientific concepts play a part in the everyday activity of food preparation. They learned about the molecules involved in food, what those molecules can produce, the reactions that occur when they bake and cook, and similar concepts. 

“It’s all in reference to the food as an accessible vehicle to learn about science,” said Tansey. “We take the topic of the week and then do live demonstrations and lab work that allows the students to see those abstract concepts come to life right in front of them. There’s an energy in the classroom that is amazing to be a part of as these students see that science isn’t so daunting to study.” 


Tansey’s final project this year was a bake-off where students explain the science behind a meaningful recipe to them. Following their presentation, judges taste samples and choose a best-in-class dish. 

“When these students present their final work, there is this newfound sense of confidence they didn’t have at the beginning of the semester. They come in unsure of how this all works, but they leave knowing they can successfully study, learn, create, and communicate about their academic pursuits,” Tansey said. 

Otterbein strives to create a campus environment where students feel supported by their professors, staff members, and even fellow students. The Bridge to College program puts those values to work.  

“We want our summer students to leave campus feeling like they not only can succeed at a college level, but also enjoy it at the same time,” said Bechtold. “We’re all working towards forming the best versions of themselves possible.” 

See more photos from today’s bake-off in our online photo gallery.