Judging Criteria

Our hackers are hard at work building their beests. Each team brings something different to the table; unique perspectives, vibrant energies…and big plans for their beests!

That’s why the next few posts will be devoted to Team Spotlights.

But before we dive into that, here’s a quick overview of the criteria that will be used to judge our hacker’s creations:

  • Survivability! Or the beest’s ability to thrive. Will the beest be able to sustain itself in its given environment?
  • Imaginative Adaptations! Or the creativity of the beest. Does the beest represent the next step in Strandbeest evolution?
  • Reproductibility! Or the aesthetics of the beest. Is the design easy to replicate and does it inspire others to do so?

We’ll see which of our teams hits all of the above criteria, and keep an eye out for those Team Spotlights. Don’t forget, the winning team will have their hack featured in the Strandbeest exhibition!


Team Spotlight: P.E.A. Pod!

Team Name: P.E.A. Pod

Team Motto: Perfection is the enemy of the good!

Materials Being Used: PVC, along with other materials.

Beest Bio: One word; survivability! This team isn’t looking to create something that needs a lot of nurturing. Its aim is to produce the next generation of self-sufficient beests.

Beestly Blurb: The best part about the Hackathon for this team? The non-competitive nature of the event! Everyone is fun, friendly, and focused on their hacks.

Team Spotlight: Mullen Lowe!

Team Name: Mullen Lowe

Team Motto: Fail!

Materials being used: PVC

Beest Bio: This team is looking to build six Strandbeest legs, but their master blueprint includes plans for a body too!

Beestly Blurb: These co-workers love building things, and getting their hands dirty. They’re excited that the Hackathon allows them to channel their creativity.

Team Spotlight: Devilbeests!

Team Name: Devilbeests

Team Motto: Measure once, cut twice!

Materials Being Used: Cardboard, duct tape…possibly fire?

Beest Bio: Channeling Theo, the Devilbeests are using only one material; cardboard. They want to transform the cardboard and use it to its full potential. They’re also exploring alternative catalysts for their beest’s movement. “I’m really hoping it’ll be fire”, says one of the members.

Beestly Blurb: This team is looking forward to turning twenty-one so they can use their Strandbeest beer glasses!

Team Spotlight: Mayors of Simpleton!

Team Name: Mayors of Simpleton

Team Motto: Build the American beest!

Materials Being Used: PVC

Beest Bio: This team isn’t looking to build the whole animal, but rather pieces of it that work cohesively to create movement. They strive for a simple design that can be easily replicated.

Beestly Blurb: After finding out about the Hackathon via a Facebook post, this team wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought it might be fun. Needless to say the event has exceeded their expectations!

Team Spotlight: DADAs!

Team Name: DADAs

Team Motto: Gadji beri bimba!

Materials Being Used: A little bit of everything.

Beest Bio: This team aspires to create an amphibious animal. Visually inspired by the frill necked lizard, their beest will roll from land to sea in a reverse evolution that will undoubtedly revolutionize the nature of the Strandbeest.

Beestly Blurb: The DADA’s adore the sense of comradery and collaboration present at the Hackathon. This team is a hive of positive energy!

Team Spotlight: Evolucionarios!

Team Name: Evolucionarios

Team Motto: Forget about the rules!

Materials Being Used: PVC

Beest Bio: Drawing inspiration from the precise nature of Theo’s practice, they aim to maximize the possibility of success through repetition. They bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “practice makes perfect”!

Beestly Blurb: Comprised of fathers and their kids, family comes first on this team!

The Hackathon Has Begun!

The teams are gathering their supplies, and the beests are ready to evolve!

Theo Jansen spoke of evolution earlier today when he met with the hackers. He stated how the beests “use humanity to multiply”, and how the hackers will contribute to their evolutionary history.

The name of the game? Survivability! It is Theo’s dream that his animals will thrive long after he is gone. The challenge that the teams will face is creating a creature that’ll be able to sustain itself within its given environment.

The two types of animals in question? “American mutants” built from electrical conduit PVC pipe (larger than the Dutch PVC which Jansen uses), and beests of a different structure and genetic code all together.
With the larger PVC piping Jansen expects not only a bigger beest, but a bigger challenge. When creating these “American mutants” the hackers must pay special attention to the pipe joints, and “develop their own language” with the tubes.

The poetics of Jansen’s language (and his special relationship with the Strandbeests) was demonstrated earlier today when the hackers encountered his creations up close. Each team drew inspiration from the joints and spines of Jansen’s unique animals.

As for the other structures to be utilized throughout the hackathon?

Time will tell how these will contribute to the evolution of the beests.


Hello fellow hackers!

Today is a beautiful day to have a 24-hour hackathon, don’t you think? We have eight fantastic teams ready to step up to the plate and solve some #Strandbeest challenges.

Want to see how the teams progress? Want to get a first-hand look at Hackathon happenings? Follow @peabodyessex #PEMhack on Twitter and Instagram. Use #Evolucionarios #MullenLowe #ClarkSchoolSolvers #PEApod #MayorsOfSimpleton #HampsteadAcademyHackers #DADAs and #Devilbeests to reach out and keep track of specific teams.

Want to video in? Skype us @maker.lounge

Stay tuned, we’ll be releasing the challenges soon!

T-4.5 hours until the Hackathon begins…

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