Students and teachers can explore the STEM concepts and skills found in the artists work. The STEM Concept tool provides a core idea from the Next Generation Science Standards and illustrates possible ways it has been applied in each artist's work. It also includes artist tips and views on STEM for a personal perspective on their unique STEM + Art connections.

Universal Raisin Cake Theory

Next Generation Science Standard

Core Idea ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe
ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars
ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System

Universal Raisin Cake Theory:  The Universal Raisin Cake Theory is a real metaphor that astrophysics use to describe the way in which our universe is expanding. Imagine our universe as a lump of dough with raisins distributed throughout. Each raisin represents a galaxy. As the dough rises, the raisins are carried along in the dough, becoming further and further apart from one another. Another way to visualize this phenomenon is to draw dots on the surface of a balloon. As you blow up the balloon, the dots become further apart. All of us are floating along together on a giant cosmic raisin (our galaxy) - where we're headed, no one knows for sure! The Universal Raisin Cake Theory is a way to help us use our imaginations to think about the possibilities and develop theories that can be tested analytically...creatively.

skills applied

  • Quantum Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Chemistry


I am extremely interested in quantum- and astrophysics, and read extensively on these subjects. I have gathered information for "The Universal Raisin Cake Theory" project from visits to observatories and science museums. This project also required research on breads used in various traditions around the world.

What is the definition of a book? Must a book have pages, or even words? Here I have created a book in the form of a box - it looks like something you'd be more likely to find a grocery store than in a library. I am constantly thinking about ways to liberate science from laboratories and textbooks, and about how science can be expressed as something wonderful that is all around you as part of your everyday life. You can visit the "Universal Raisin Cake Theory" and research the concept of "social sculpture".  Explore my creative process or watch a video of myself giving advice and words of encouragement to RISD students. Students can research "artists' books" or to learn how to make an 8-page book out of one sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper. Alyce

Artists on STEM
Has working with science and technology improved your professional career or life and if so how?

There is no question that my background in science has given me a deeper appreciation and understanding of the complexity of our world from a physical - biological, chemical, and mathematical - standpoint. My science education taught me how to think critically, and how to formulate hypothesis and carry out experiments - skills which I use in my creative practice.

What was your experience with STEM in school? What would you change now if you could?

While I excelled at art and music in high school, I was already very focused on becoming a good scientist....I wish that my teachers had been better able to highlight the interconnectedness between subjects - no subject is entirely separate from any other (for example, using math, music, and physics to describe one another greatly enhances our understanding of each) - instead our education system tends to compartmentalize and isolate subjects in a way that does not reflect reality.

How do you think artists can benefit from science / scientists? and/or visa versa?

I believe that in order to be a good artist, one must have a solid understanding of one's subject - if one is working with the natural world, knowledge gained through science can offer this. On the other hand, scientific research can often cause the scientist to focus very intensely on his or her subject, losing sight of "the big picture" - an artist's eye can often help one to see a subject from a new and innovative perspective, and to generate novel solutions to problems.