Release the Hackathon beests!

The time has come to release our Hackathon challenges! Below are two design prompts inspired and devised by Theo Jansen himself. We’ve also included the list of supplies we have given each team in case you would like to give the challenges a shot from the comfort of your own home, office, or work space.

Make sure you share your final products with us by tagging @peabodyessex #PEMhack #Strandbeest on Twitter and Instagram!

Challenge #1
Background – After sharing the genetic codes of the Strandbeest with the world, Theo Jansen has been pleasantly surprised by the new iterations of the creatures produced by his fans. Impressed by the cleverness of the Beests and their continued use of humans to ensure their reproduction and survival, a new type of Strandbeest is waiting to be conceived.
Problem to solve – The Dutch electrical conduit PVC tubing that Jansen’s Strandbeests are built from is not sold in the United States. It is not an easy material to obtain, and makes building a large scale Dutch Beest in Salem, MA both impractical because of the material and impossible, because Salem isn’t in Holland.

The alternative and your challenge, should you choose to accept: Conceive of and create a the beginnings of a Beest that will be build from electrical conduit PVC available locally.

Please consider the local environment that this Beest will be living, and how this Beest will contribute to species as a whole. Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the American PVC?

Materials provided:

  • 30-40ft of 1-inch diameter Electrical PVC conduit
  • Zip Ties
  • Various fasteners
  • Drinking straws

Challenge #2
Background – 
The Strandbeest’s genetic code, developed by a computer program in 1991 is known as the 13 holy numbers. Theo Jansen has used this genetic code to create the leg and leg movements of the Strandbeests for nearly 25 years. This code has allowed his Strandbeests to walk with relative ease and produce the movement that we find so captivating. Some Strandbeest mutations have slightly different genetic codes, and Jansen himself has praised their efficiency.

When giving advice to students about building their own Strandbeests, Jansen will often explain that the crank system is typically the component with the most problems. This is both due to the mechanics and the PVC tubing.

While he himself is committed to the PVC tubes and the original genetic code, we’d like to see your team shake things up.

Challenge: Develop a genetic code for a strandbeest specifically adapted to a non-PVC material.

You must be able to defend the code that you have created and demonstrate why/how your adaptation serves the particular Strandbeest mutation, and how you think it will help to ensure the survival of the species.

Also consider, where will this Beest live?

Materials provided:

  • Cardboard Drinking Straws
  • Craft Sticks
  • Pool Noodles
  • Zip Ties
  • Duct Tape

*You may choose a different non-PVC material and bring it to Hackathon.

Tools/Supplies Available for all teams:

  • Snips
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • String
  • Heat Guns
  • 1 Power Drill
  • 1 Rotary Cutter 1 Jigsaw
  • Basic Toolbox (hammers, screwdrivers etc.) Extension Cords
  • 1 Laser Printer
  • 1 Silhouette Printer
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