CBR Amazing Race – one-of-a-kind Science Event

By Anna Sinova, CBR Program Manager

On June 9, 2017 the CBR Health and Wellness (H&W) Committee organized what is hoped to become the CBR’s cornerstone summer event – the first CBR Amazing Race! Under the slogan “Summer Students Run. CBR Members Host”, fifteen CBR labs on campus united to host a one-of-a-kind science gaming event for the summer students on a Friday afternoon last week.

See Amazing Race Pictures

All summer students arrived at the green hill in front of the Life Sciences Center between 3:00pm and 3:05 pm, to start the race. It turns out that it is possible to have students arrive exactly on time – they just have to be promised bonus points!

Most students took the race very seriously and arrived in full sportswear, well prepared for the running part of the challenge and ready to win. After partnering up and receiving their Amazing Race Passports, they had only 10 minutes to strategize which labs they would visit and in what order to get the most points.

At the same time, the CBR labs were getting their fun lab activities ready. The variety and creativity that went into developing the challenges was astounding, given that every activity had to be only 2 to 5 minutes long. To earn their points, the summer students had to: “pin a flagellum” to a Pseudomonas bacterium, shoot a laser to determine the correct peptide, prepare “blood samples” for DNA extraction, separate molecules by glass pipette column chromatography, crystallize a protein, get into the mind of a virus and figure out how infections spread, play “osteoporosis” hangman, make “blood clots”, identify sample blood types, and set up the sequence of product manufacturing in transfusion, just to mention a few experiments and games.

As the H&W Committee was calculating the routes and possibilities in order to assign points to labs based on distance, they definitely did not account for the enthusiasm and zeal of the CBR summer students.

“We predicted that most teams would only visit approximately half the labs: maybe one of the further labs (Hancock or Orvig), a few labs at the Biomedical Research Center (BRC) or Michael Smith Labs, and then finish up by visiting a few labs at the Life Sciences Center.” – said Jenny Huang, the H&W Committee President.

It turns out, 6 out of 10 teams visited both Hancock AND Orvig labs, the two farthest labs, and practically all teams visited all labs at the BRC and Michael Smith. One team even managed to complete 14 out of 15 labs excepting the Hancock lab and finished 10 minutes early. Needless to say, the race was tight!

However, at the end, we had our winners: Ariel Zhang from the Kizhakkedathu Lab and Sam Mar from the Hancock Lab! As a prize, they received their awesome 1st Place Amazing Race Certificates, the amazing CBR tote bags, the very practical CBR umbrellas, and $20 gift cards to UBC Food Services.

To watch the win, for the first time we had participants from almost all CBR labs on campus show up for the Grand Finale TGIF! It was, in fact, very grand, with the giant stretch pizzas and much beer to foster a festive atmosphere.

A BIG thank you to everyone who participated in and supported the CBR Amazing Race event. The event was only possible because the CBR is lucky to have so many dedicated students, postdocs, research associates, PIs, staff, and the H&W Committee members working in all of its labs!

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