How things work: Midway's myriad structure

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, cutting to the Morewood?New House?Mudge region via the Morewood parking lot meant a nose full of sawdust and an eyeful of power tools. Everywhere, calls rang out from member to member of various groups, coordinating the building process.

Members of Delta Upsilon were pulling the large posts up for the front of their booth, which resembled numerous government buildings, which served as the structure for ?How the U.S. Government Works? ? a booth that earned them third in the competition for best fraternity booth.Near DU?s impressive national landmark was Sigma Phi Epsilon?s ?How Rock ?n? Roll Works? booth. Travis Brier, a SigEp brother and sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, emerged with paint-covered hands through the bass drum that served as the entryway for the SigEp booth. Brier said he?d been working on the booth since much earlier that day, even though now the sun was setting. He ate his first meal in hours while with The Tartan ? chicken and rolls wrapped with care to protect them from the grime of booth-building. SigEp ended up placing second in the fraternity category.

Continuing toward the Morewood Avenue dormitories, you could have stepped over PVC piping, spools of wire, a layer of sawdust, and about a gabillion screws. The space between the two rows of large booths was nearly impenetrable to those not on a mission from their organization ? get out, get paint, get back to base quickly. By Thursday afternoon, several booths were still in the last throes of construction, touching up details or adjusting the wirings on this year?s plethora of high-tech games.

Before building was all over, however, a few booths got the better of their unlucky builders. No one who was present can forget the roar of the crowd as Alpha Epsilon Pi suffered a booth collapse during Move On. Despite the destruction, however, AEPi took back their booth and rebuilt it, bringing it to Midway in one piece the next day. The long line of people traveling up the winding staircase to their airplane during the festivities showed they hadn?t lost any essential element of the structure at Move On. In terms of personal injuries, there were no doubt countless bruised toes and fingers from hammers and wood, but Delta Gamma had two sisters suffer serious finger injuries while putting together ?How Natural Disasters Work.? Perhaps the sisters can console themselves with Delta Gamma?s second-place win in the sorority category.

Finally, there were some more minor, and yet still
personally devastating, injuries to pride. Margaret McGinnis of Delta Delta Delta suffered a ?splash to the head? while booth-building. McGinnis, a professional writing major, said that she was caught unaware when she looked up to find a can of paint was descending on her from above. The paint had accidentally fallen from a ladder, and caught McGinnis right in the face as she turned to see what the fuss from her sister above was about. McGinnis suffered only injuries to her pride and her first layer of skin ? from all that scrubbing.

When the booths were revealed however, members of fraternities, sororities, and independent organizations looked on happily as the first of Thursday?s Midway guests arrived. The first booth you hit when coming back from watching a show at main stage was Sigma Tau Gamma?s ?How Nuclear Reactors Work.? Here, the attention was not given to structural detail as it was in some other booths, but the game made up for most other complaints that a person could pose. One or two players got to sit down and attempt to prevent nuclear meltdown. The player had to scroll through a various sectors of the simulated plant and balance the levels of boron and fuel in each sector. The game was a challenge, but the brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma said they sustained no serious injuries during building. Far from nuclear reactors, they originally wanted to do a booth on how beer breweries work.

?Home2020,? the architecture studio?s booth, was impressive just for the sake of the ideas inside it. It featured a recipe reader that told you what you could make with things like an apple or a box of instant pad thai. The booth had moving chairs with delightful spinners to send you around and around, and a lot of other high tech gadgetry. This included a touch screen that revealed a picture of whoever was looking at the screen when it was rubbed. But the gadgets weren?t as fun as the spinning stools.

AEPi?s plane booth ended up flying smoothly after its initial troubles during Move On. The best part was undoubtedly the nose of a plane, constructed out of sheet metal that reflected blinding rays on those who stood in line. Once inside the plane, tykes could ?fly? around Midway in a small computer simulation.

On the subject of flight, and success, Midway goers missed out if they failed to stop at Kappa Delta Rho?s booth. A lot of the fun with this booth could have been had from the outside, since its most impressive structural element was a very large space shuttle. The inside wasn?t much to shout about: It had a great metal staircase but the buttons and lights connected to a map of the world were not designed to work, even though they begged to be fiddled with. KDR let you go on your own flight simulation, complete with seating for three, a full wall of buttons that actually did something, and monitors displaying what you might see outside the window of a space shuttle. According to KDR members, five ?very dedicated individuals? suffered from poorer grades due to their booth?s construction. Since KDR walked away with first place in fraternity booth, The Tartan doubts they mind a little ?C? on their transcripts.
The sorority first place winner was Kappa Alpha Theta with ?How Diamond Mines Work.? This big mountain resembled a red volcano during the beginning of production, but later on when bits of mirror were added to the outside, it truly began to sparkle. A lot of papier mache went into the inside walls, which were covered in small diamond shaped lights no bigger than the palm of your hand. This booth was without fancy computer games and instead featured one game where players had to toss small ?diamonds? into replicas of carts and another game where you sifted for gemstones like a prospector. Sisters working the booth said the reason they chose a diamond mine is that they thought it would be a ?real challenge.?

The Delta Gamma booth was higher tech than most, featuring a mechanical earthquake and a forest fire created by an air blower connected to colored cloths. There was a lot of attention to minute details in this booth, such as the bugs that hung from the ceiling in one area of the mock forest. The sisters of DG took on a fairly large topic by doing ?How Natural Disasters Work,? but managed to give a lot of these disasters a special spot in the booth, both with educational materials and parts of the decor.

The Singapore Students? Association had a little bit of nature built into their booth too. Their booth was, literally, about time. The best part could be seen without setting foot inside, in the form of a massive clock that depicted changes over time in the forms of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly and other natural occurrences.

If you traveled through Carnival going from the realistic to the unrealistic you might have stopped at TriDelt?s ?How Magic Works? booth next. This booth stood out from all the rest in the amount of stuff that it managed to pack into its structure ? and still have room for a large beanbag-toss tic-tac-toe game. The first room was carefully set up, displaying explanations of famous magic tricks from long ago. There was a wooden duck that could guess what card a person was holding and a display about how disappearing ink works. In the second area, Carnival-goers could actually interact with the tricks, learning how some card tricks and cup games could produce magical results. The walls were painted with glittery designs and on one wall was a more detailed mural of a hat, a bunny, and a bird, done with simple oil paints, according to one sister.

You might have looked hard in the TriDelt booth for the trick to becoming a rock star, but you probably didn?t find it. Regardless, though, you could become one for about five to ten minutes in the SigEp booth. Nothing short of amazing, it included an enormous purple electric guitar and a drum set on the outside with great additions on the inside like a floor inlaid with broken CDs and guitar picks bearing the brothers? names. The rock ?n? roll tour started in the garage, traveled to larger clubs, and continued into the recording studio. There you could create your own music using the ?Sigma Phi Jamsilon? game that allowed you to mix instruments together, speed up or slow down the song, and add the most essential part to any musical number ? more cowbell. Finally the tour concluded in the Rock ?n? Roll Hall of Fame.

To round out the trip into booths categorized as ?How My Wildest Dreams Work? is a visit to the White House. Those who entered the building created by DU saw a great outdoor structure with plaster statues and large, surprisingly sturdy columns. The inside had a pretty cool painted flag going up the main dome. The first room let you attempt to pass a ?bill? in the form of a ping-pong ball down a series of slopes that showed the actual lawmaking process. This room also had a voting booth that let you vote for two guys that didn?t actually live contemporaneously (Washington and Lincoln). However, The Tartan did get to play the Democrats in a game of ?shoot the ball to win the region.? The DU game was a little hard to use; it had a slingshot-type system that shot blue or red balls into various baskets. There was a color sorter that allowed the game to ?know? if a red or a blue ball had scored. It was considerably easier when they allowed you to throw the balls by hand rather than struggle with the wooden catapults.

Whichever booth at Carnival you liked best will remain your personal measure for all other booths to come after it. If you helped build a booth, you may remember slaving away in the hot sun with a 2-by-4 and a rusty saw. Or you may have memories from Move On ? like the sisters of Zeta Psi Sigma, who said they thought they looked pretty hilarious as they carried a candy roof to Midway, with only little feet lining the bottom. And even if you didn?t build a booth, your trip to this year?s Booth display probably taught you a lot about how CMU works.