Astronomy Club carnival booth team photo! This photo includes most of our builders and some Astronomy Club alumni that came by to visit our booth!

Our final Astronomy Club carnival booth at the Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival 2023!

Project Overview

I worked with fellow members of Carnegie Mellon University's Astronomy Club to plan, construct, decorate, and showcase a carnival booth at Carnegie Mellon University's Spring Carnival in 2023. We were the smallest organization to participate and accomplish a finished booth with only 11 total builders. Our carnival booth's theme was "Cool Exoplanets!" and included imagery of several different exoplanets, educational information around the booth, and a hook and ring carnival game. I participated in every stage of the design and development and the hook and ring carnival game was my idea. The process included 2 months of concept design, planning, and preparation, 1 week of construction, 4 days of showcase at Carnegie Mellon University's Spring Carnival 2023 for thousands of guests, and 1 day of strike and cleanup. 

Concept Design, Planning, and Preparation

The Astronomy Club spent 2 months on concept design, planning, and preparation. We decided together on a Carnival Booth theme of "Cool Exoplanets!" I also contributed the concept of a hook and ring style carnival game and everyone was very excited by the idea.

After deciding on a concept, we began planning and preparing our materials. The Astronomy Club had built carnival booths in the past, so we had a supply of wood and pre-built frames that we could draw from. Therefore, our first step was to take inventory of the materials that we already had, check the materials for any damage, and plan out any remaining materials, frames, etc. that we would need to purchase or build. 

Taking inventory of our existing stock of wood and frames from previous years of Astronomy Club carnival booths

Then, we painted all wall panels black to create a solid background that we could paint over and decorate later.

Painting the wall panels black

Build Week

As part of the Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival rules and traditions, each organization can only have one week to construct their booth on site. This was one of the busiest times of the entire project as we had significantly less builders than every other organization. Many other organizations had 100+ people helping and Astronomy Club only had 11 total builders! Another challenge was that classes were still occurring during this build week. To overcome these challenges, we worked to maintain strong communication throughout the process and planned schedules of when the builders were able to get together to work.  

Build Week - Move On

The first stage of Build Week was "Move On," when we transport all of our materials, wood, wall panels, and frames from our storage to the Midway! As part of the rules and traditions, we can only begin moving our materials at a specific time and we have a limited amount of time to move everything so we had to work quickly and efficiently!

Moving all of our wood out from storage and preparing to transport it to the Midway where we will build the carnival booth!

All Astronomy Club booth builders preparing to transport our materials!

Loading our materials into a U-Haul truck! 

Per Carnegie Mellon rules and traditions, anything that cannot fit into the U-Haul truck has to be hand carried to the Midway. This was a workout carrying these wood frames across campus!

We unloaded all of our materials from the U-Haul and gathered the wood frames that we hand carried. We made it to our assigned location for the carnival!

A happy team after a successful Move On!

Build Week - Construction

Construction of our carnival booth included adding shims, adding floor, adding walls, adding ceiling, and adding a step at the entryway.

We had safety inspections throughout our construction to ensure that we were adhering to all safety guidelines and expectations.

Adding shims for a level floor on the uneven parking lot surface and adding floor panels!

Building progress! Floor panels, floor, and wall panels done!

Inside carnival booth view: Ceiling and walls done!

Outside carnival booth view: Ceiling and wall panels done! We are starting to sketch out our designs with chalk that we will later paint!

Build Week - Painting and Interior Decoration

The theme of our carnival booth was "Cool Exoplanets!" Our goal was to portray as many cool exoplanets as possible in our painting and interior decorations. Among the exoplanets included were: Blanets, Kepler 186-F, HAT-P-7 b, and Kepler 16b

Painting Blanets

The front of our carnival booth featured a spacecraft and our school mascot Scotty Dog as an astronaut!

Painting Kepler 186-F. I helped with painting these walls!

Painting Kepler-16b. I helped with painting these walls!


Walkthrough of the booth during the painting process. Details and decorations were still being added at the time of this video.

Painting of one of the CMU Astronomy professors' dog in a spacecraft!

Adding raining gems to the ceiling to represent exoplanet HAT-P-7 b. I assembled many of these raining gem decorations by hot gluing gems to clear string

We also added educational informational sheets around the carnival booth explaining the exoplanets that inspired our booth!

Build Week - Hook and Ring Carnival Game

We wanted to have a carnival game to make the carnival booth more exciting and engaging for visitors! It was my idea to have a hook and ring game. I originally pitched the game to have a clearer astronomy theme/tie-in. I suggested that the ring be attached to a spacecraft hanging from the ceiling and the hook be an exoplanet on the wall and the object of the game was to land your spacecraft on the exoplanet by hooking your ring on the hook. The team absolutely loved this idea and originally wanted to do the game with this theming! However, ultimately, we chose to have a more simplified hook and ring game for scope and to keep it as a simple and more recognizable carnival-style game.

Adding the hook and ring carnival game!

Hook and ring carnival game!

A happy team as we finally finished building our carnival booth!

Showcase at Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival

We opened our carnival booth to thousands of guests from within the Carnegie Mellon University community and the public for 4 days. I staffed several shifts throughout the 4 days, welcoming people to our booth, explaining the concept of our booth, and encouraging guests to play our carnival game!

One of the most rewarding moments of the showcase at the spring carnival was a specific encounter that we had with a guest. We met a young boy in middle school who really loved astronomy. He spent an extended amount of time in our booth, examining every painting with awe and reading every word on our educational posters. Even when his family would encourage him to take breaks to visit other nearby booths, he would always return right back to our booth. He spoke to us about how deeply the booth inspired him and how he really hoped to go to Carnegie Mellon one day and study astronomy. He even got all of our autographs! It was such a moving and humbling moment to recognize the impact that we were able to have with our booth and that is one memory that I will never forget.

Front/side view: Finished booth!

Back/side view: Finished booth!

Guests playing our hook and ring game! It was a very fun and addicting game to play and the guests really enjoyed it! We had several people able to successfully land the ring on the hook!

Showcase at Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival - 3D Scan

We also had our carnival booth 3D scanned for documentation!


We tore down, cleaned up our plot, and returned our materials to storage in only one day!

Entire booth deconstructed and plot cleaned!

All materials returned to Astronomy Club storage

CMU Science Social Media Feature

Our carnival booth was featured on the CMU Science Instagram!


508-404-3168  |  |  Pittsburgh, PA  |