Federalism & Funfetti Come Together in AP Government


Anna Kelly’s Cake

Annika McCanne, Staff Writer

Recently, the SHS AP Government class took on tactile learning as they baked cakes for extra credit. Vanilla and chocolate fumes filled SHS history teacher Heather Willinger’s room while SHS senior Victor Bowker broke countless plastic knives into his homemade frosting. To represent different forms of government and the impacts of checks & balances, students created either marbled or dual-layer cakes in an array of shapes and sizes.

AP classes often bring stress to students, especially as college applications add extra pressure. Having a chance to showcase a different set of abilities breaks up the monotony of usual homework. After tasting the cakes, the students had to defend how their creation represented either dual or cooperative Federalism with evidence from the Constitution.

Dual Federalism is a system where the state and federal government function in almost entirely separate spheres with different powers. For example, states have control over public safety, school maintenance, or marriage laws, while the federal government oversees activities including coining money, foreign trade, or declaring war. In cooperative Federalism, both governments work together to solve and address issues.

SHS senior Anna Kelly went above and beyond to create a “fluffy and light bilayer cake” with a chocolate base layer and a vanilla top layer. She then decorated the cake with brilliant blue icing that “represented the democracy of America.” Kelly was excited to show off her baking abilities and described the activity as helping to form an “internal connection to the power of state and federal government.” After positive reviews from classmates and Willinger’s sophomore history class, she is confident in her victory because of the inclusion of “fish sprinkles” and being “overall the most aesthetically pleasing.”

Another participant, SHS senior Kelly Granatino chose to make a cake for an extra credit opportunity and was excited to have a “fun activity” to do with her friends. She stated that the assignment helped clarify the difference between enumerated and reserved powers in a hands-on way. Originally, she planned to create a dual-layer cake to represent dual Federalism; however, tragedy struck after one of the layers broke coming out of the oven. Despite this, she went all out on the decorations and was proud that the cake still “tasted good.” When asked if she believed she deserved to win, Granatino admitted, “No, but I definitely don’t think I came in last.”

These cakes served as a creative way for students to showcase their creativity and baking talents that might not normally be evident in school. Encouraging creativity and different approaches to learning allows students to engage in their learning–plus, these projects taste great!