Science Rendezvous volunteers hold pieces of the record-breaking DNA model.

Photo: Devin Jones

Record-breaking DNA model a big hit at Science Rendezvous

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By Justin Chandler

Students, staff and volunteers from Ryerson’s Faculty of Science built the world’s longest DNA model in Yonge-Dundas Square as part of the annual science celebration Science Rendezvous on Saturday.

Reeda Mahmood, a third-year biomedical science student, and Nathan Battersby, a third-year biology student, organized the record-breaking build.

“People are so afraid of science,” Battersby said. “We want to make it friendly.”

The two decided to build the DNA model because it was made up of a lot of small pieces and building it forced many people to work together.

Throughout the day, visitors to the square could get a photo taken with the letter A, T, C or G, which represent adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, the basic building blocks of DNA. Those photos were attached to the model when it was built around 3 p.m.

The wooden structure of the roughly 40-metre-long DNA strand was prepared before the event, Ryerson media relations officer Lauren Clegg wrote in an email.

Battersby said the best part of Science Rendezvous was “watching people’s excitement.”

All throughout the day, people wandered into Yonge-Dundas Square and visited the tents where about 20 different demonstrations and activities were set up.

Large foam building blocks were set up for children to play with and two high school robotics teams, Alpha Dogs and 1334, brought their ball-launching robots to show off. There were demonstrations on topics such as converting light into energy and the anatomy of birds.

At 2 p.m., the band Goodnight, Sunrise performed. Its four members dressed in white lab coats and played on the square’s stage. Their set included a sped-up cover of David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity.”

Repeat visitor to Science Rendezvous Walter Sheppard brought his two young sons to the event after they enjoyed going last year. Sheppard said Science Rendezvous is a “good learning experience” for his kids.

Imogen Coe, the Ryerson dean of science wore a white lab coat with the words “trust me, I’m a scientist” at the event. She said Science Rendezvous tries to “make science fun and accessible.”

Science Rendezvous began in 2008 and involves 40 Canadian research institutions, according to the event’s website. Events like Ryerson’s were held across the country on Saturday.

The DNA model’s world record is currently unofficial and will not be recognized by Guinness World Records until an evidence package is submitted by the organizers.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story, published online on May 8, claimed that the DNA model was around 12 metres long. It was actually roughly 40 metres long. The Eyeopener regrets this error.


    1. You’re right, I’m sorry for the error. We’ll fix it asap. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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