Blitz booths bring back childhood memories

One of the most overlooked components of Carnival is the blitz booths, typically built by smaller organizations such as the Astronomy Club, Society for Women Engineers, and ALLIES. Although they may be smaller, have fewer resources, and have less time to build, blitz booths use these constraints to their advantage. By focusing on the simpler version of Carnival that most people are familiar with, smaller organizations take us back to a time when tossing a ping-pong ball into a plastic cup or knocking down some wooden pins was all the satisfaction we needed from a booth game.

This year?s theme, ?How Things Work,? brought out many organizations that had never participated in Booth. From academic departments to social organizations, each group came up with creative themes. Among items on the agenda of these dedicated booth builders were reaching out to the community, encouraging bonding among participants, and fostering better alumni relations.

One of the newcomers to the blitz booth scene this year was the Biological Sciences Student Advisory Council (BioSAC), the first academic department-affiliated group to participate in this Carnival activity. BioSAC?s booth consisted of a black exterior with a labeled cell diagram on the side, while the interior consisted of glow-in-the-dark cell components and black lights.

Senior biology student and BioSAC booth co-chair David Hill explained that the glow-in-the-dark organelles represented parts of the cell tagged with green fluorescent protein, a chemical used to see where an organelle is located and what it looks like. He says that the idea was to create an outreach program educating people about the different components of the cell, while simultaneously bringing back graduates from the department to build a stronger relationship with alumni. To sum up BioSAC?s booth experience, senior biology student Laura Miller said, ?We?re geeky and we have fun.? The organization received support from Student Senate, Dean Murphy, and various faculty members in the biology department.

ALLIES, a CMU organization for people of all sexual orientations that supports gays, bisexuals, and lesbians, constructed its booth around the theme of ?Prisms,? which represent diversity and bringing people together. Essentially, when a white light is shined through a prism, a rainbow of colors comes out from the other end.

ALLIES initially entered into the blitz booth category last spring to promote its organization and raise awareness in the campus community. This year, while the organization still seeks to encourage diversity and facilitate healthy relationships on campus, one of the main purposes of building their booth was to help members and non-members bond and build a community together. ALLIES was so successful that when many people asked whether they could purchase the spray-painted shapes hung along their booth, junior Vijay Jesrani said jokingly, ?We might just sell the ornaments on eBay.?

Mudge House, a second year participant in the blitz booth competition, embarked on a project called ?How the flush toilet works.? Complete with bathroom floor tiles, two toilets, a sink, a mirror, and a medicine cabinet, these students built a booth capturing an essential part of student life, especially for those living in residential dorms. Other ideas that the students of Mudge House were considering included an elevator and a kaleidoscope. When asked about the fate of the toilets and the sink, a Mudge resident replied that they were probably going to donate them to Construction Junction, a market for assorted building materials. Morewood Gardens E Tower also participated in the Carnival festivities this year. Following the footsteps of the pioneering students of Mudge House, E Tower first-years worked on a booth featuring a working catapult that launched tennis balls.

This year was also the first time the Entertainment Technology course offered by the mechanical engineering department participated in blitz booth. The course focuses on designing roller coasters and various rides at the Disney amusement parks. For their first year, the students decided to depict ?How the Immune System Works.? Like many of the smaller organizations involved with Booth, one of the most important factors influencing their choice in theme was the budget constraint. However, despite this limitation, the students of Entertainment Technology managed to design a blitz booth with foam parts.

Other participants of blitz booth this year included Sigma Nu fraternity, Kappa Phi Lambda sorority, Lambda Sigma Honor Society, Circle K, and the Astronomy Club.

Overall, the Booth Committee generated a lot of positive feedback among the chairs of the blitz booths. This year, many people felt that the Committee seemed to be more organized and more prepared to deal with the organizations? needs. ?Meetings were held earlier, and communication between the Committee and the organizations was more efficient,? said SWE booth chair Linda Kaplan.

The supportive environment seemed to cultivate better coordination between booth chairs and the Committee?s members. While Carnival continues to grow every year, student feedback will always be an important aspect of the event. Fortunately this year, there was much talk of the improvements in blitz booths in comparison to past years.