Kinetic Beasts // Plover Bird

Prototype 1

This model was built based on the dipping motion of the plover bird. Whenever it picks up food from the ground or from between the crocodile’s teeth, the bird makes this tilting movement back and forth.

I reinterpreted this movement as an oscillation in this abstract model. The model would move back and forth like roly-poly toy.

The model consists of three different parts: base, stick, end. The base is the half circle you can see in photograph in the center. This base is half a circle to allow the model to rock back and forth. A weight (a coin in this case) is added to the middle of one the sides. I found that different weights (5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents) made the base rock back and forth in different speeds. The stick is the long pole in the center. The end is the two circles at either end of the stick. They are of equal weight and allows the stick to oscillate up and down on the base.


Prototype 2

This model was more focused on a realistic representation of the plover bird. In addition, it was taking into consideration of storing water in it and letting the water out as the bird oscillates back and forth. A paste that changes color when it is heated up was applied to the bird because both the plover bird and the crocodile is attracted to heat.

As shown in the sketch above, the bird was planned to be hollow in the center to allow water to be stored. When it attains a certain level, the water would pour out of a hole in the center of the bird’s head. The bottom of the bird is not hollow. Instead, it would have a hole in its center to allow the bird to oscillate back and forth like the idea in prototype 1.

It was also originally planned to attach a magnet on the bottom of the bird’s beak. This will allow the bird to ‘pluck’ and pick up metal particles or other magnets whenever it oscillates.

The problem with this, however, is that once one side of the birds gain weight as it picks up more metal particles, the bird will not oscillate as the weight will not be balanced on each side.



The final model is combination of prototype 1 and prototype 2. It take its main abstract form from prototype 1 but take the water storing and pouring function from prototype 2.

To see the final results and process check here and here.

Croc & Plover: Behind the Scenes

**To see the final PDF by Brendan and me click here


We had a lot of ideas for our crocodile and plover bird kinetic beast but not all of it worked out. So here are some of the explorations, challenges, and potential changes that could be made.

1. Pot pot boat (challenges & potential changes)
2. Magnet repulsion (challenges & potential changes)
3. Sails (challenges & potential changes)
4. Magnetic dam (challenges & potential changes)
5. Thermochromism
6. Additional explorations


Our kinetic beast was able to float in the waters of ADM but we wanted more. What if it was able to propel itself forward on its own? Both crocodiles and birds are attracted heat so we decided to draw inspiration from a pot pot boat (also referred to as pop pop boat, popping boat, and etc) that uses heat to move forward.

In theory, a pot pot boat is a toy that uses a simple steam engine. The steam engine in this case is usually fueled a candle or vegetable oil burner. The engine of a pot pot boat consists of two parts. The boiler room and an exhaust tube that is connected to it. Heat is applied to the water, water in the boiler evaporates, steam is produced. The molecules of steam is more widespread than water and thus needs more space. So the expanding steam pushes out the water from the exhaust tube and propels the boat forward. A popping noise is made when this happens. This is where the pot pot boat gets its name.

In our case, we had a small flat candle warming up a metal plate fashioned out of an aluminum can. The metal plate, which is the boiler room, is connected to two straws. One straw will be sucking in water into the boiler room while the other is pumping out water. The water that is pumped out should move the kinetic beast forwards.

When we tested it out the boat was floating alright but did not move forwards. We were unable to hear a popping noise either. However, the candles were heating up the boiler room. 

Potential changes can be not using exhaust tubes (the straws) that are too narrow and short to propel the whole boat. We could have used bigger ones. With a combination of bigger straws a bigger boiler room that could let out more steam at once, perhaps the boat could have moved. In addition, a bigger candle could have been used to heat up the boiler room more quickly. This will lead to more frequent pops as the steam is let out.




Our bird is the tube with two round circles on either end as shown in the photos and illustration above. It is supposed to oscillate up and down whenever water is poured into the tube and it pours out. To assist this process we decided to incorporate magnet repulsion.

In theory, there is two sides to a magnet. A part that repels and a part that attracts other magnets or metal pieces. We wanted the magnets secured on to the boat to repel the bird tube so it is always dithering.

In our case, we will be attaching small flat coin magnets on the edge of the tube. Another magnet will be attached the white boat body of the kinetic beast.

When we tested it out it worked out in one scenario and did not in the other. The scenario that worked out was when we were experimenting. We attached a magnet to the bottom of the tube. With a magnet in our hands we tried repulsing the magnet attached to the tube. It worked really well in this scenario.

The other scenario is when we attached the magnets to the kinetic beast. This did not work out.

Potential changes could have been better measurements for the location of the magnet and having magnets above the bird tube. As we attached the magnets in the locations and height that we thought was right it might not have been close or far enough for the repulsion to occur properly. Better measurements could have been another exploration that could have been made. Another potential change is having more magnets. Having a canopy sort of structure above the bird that repulses the tube from the top as well might have made the movements bigger and more noticeable.


Sticking to our boat idea and getting inspired by the movement of bird wings, we tried to make sails for our kinetic beast. The idea behind it was to use the dithering movement of the bird tube to pull open the wings. So no external energy will be required to open the wings.

In theory, the wings should open whenever the bird tube declines. There are strings attached to the top of the bird tube. This string in turn is attached to the pulley of the wings. When the bird tube is stationery and parallel to the ground, the strings will hang loose as shown in the photograph with diagrams above. When bird tube declines and leans towards the kinetic beast, the strings will be pulled tight. This will make the sails open.

In our case, this theory did not work. As shown in the gif above, you can see the strings being pulled tight but this did not trigger the pulley. Which in turn did not trigger the sails to open up. The sails remained stationery while the string did alternate between hanging loose and being pulled tight. So only half of the theory worked out.

Potential changes could have been using a different kind of string. Perhaps the string we used was too thin and was not strong enough to trigger the pulley. Furthermore, there may be alternative ways to use the dithering movement of the bird tube to trigger an opening of sails. In addition, the problem with using the sails was not giving enough room for the bird tube to oscillate. As a result, the oscillations became smaller as well. Finding the right balance for the bird tube to oscillate is difficult and we did not want to add additional weight that might potentially ruin the balance. Also, there was no guarantee that the kinetic beast will sail with the wings either so for these various reasons we decided to eliminate the wings.


Plover birds are known to pluck insects or food particles from crocodile’s teeth. To imitate this motion and incorporate it into our kinetic beast, we thought of a magnetic dam.

In theory, when the bird tube tilts down towards the yellow acrylic sheet two things should happen. The water from inside the tube should pour out into a container and the magnet on the bottom of the tube should open up the container door. (Please refer to the illustration in the banner above) It would be like opening up a dam door.

In our case, it did not work out for several reasons. First, the magnet was not strong enough to lift something. Second, the bird tube has to oscillate back and forth. Once the dam was lifted it would stay stuck to the magnet and the bird tube. Thus the bird tube will be unable to oscillate because of this extra weight.

Potential changes could have been making a manual dam that opens when you pull it. But at the same time this solution is not in accord with our intention of using the natural dithering of the bird tube to open the dam.


The dictionary definition of thermochromism is property of substances to change color due to a change in temperature. As mentioned, both the crocodile and plover bird are attracted and influenced by heat. We decided to incorporate this characteristic into our kinetic beast.

In theory, when heat is applied to the thermochromism substance the color should change in a visible matter.

In our case, it worked. Brendan managed to order thermochromism powder that we mixed with water, acrylic, and white glue. This paste allowed us to pain the powder on a surface. When the surface meets heat either through the form of hot water from the fountain or a lighter, the colors changed. The GIF above demonstrates this color change. The top of the bird’s head changes from dark grey to transparent white.

In our final model, we applied this paste on the yellow acrylic sheet. The paste made the sheet look like a mossy green like the skin tone of a crocodile. When hot water is poured out of the bird tube, the color of the yellow acrylic sheet (as shown in the photograph above) changes.


One of the suggestions Professor Cheryl gave was a different version of the magnetic dam (number 4 above). Our final kinetic beast has a yellow acrylic sheet and hidden crocodile teeth beneath. Seeing this she suggested that we could have used the magnet on the bottom of the bird tube to lift a small portion of the acrylic sheet to reveal the hidden teeth beneath. This would have not only taken advantage of the dithering of the bird tube but also imitated the motion of a crocodile opening and closing its mouth. In addition, the teeth beneath would become more visible. 


KINETIC BEASTS // plover birds research

When I was assigned the crocodile and plover bird, the first thing that came to mind was a childhood picture book.

The main characters are Bill the Crocodile and his “toothbrush” friend Pete the bird. How they help each other seemed to be the perfect representation of the win-win relationship the animals have with each other.



After observing the Plover bird in flight, I came to the conclusion that it has hovering wings. It tends to have a small wings that are elliptical in shape.


Above demonstrates the range of motion a bird has during flight. Different angles can be observed in both the usage of wings and elevation of its body.


Within Plover birds there are different colors. The most common one seems to be the Egyptian Plover Bird which has a mixture of black, white, greyish green, and orange red feathers.

Features to remember are:
-spread wings have an elliptical shape as it is broad at the base (towards the body)
-absence of hind toe allows it to run quickly
-short bill


Bones of the wing area of a bird. As demonstrated in the motion of flight, the wings bend in many angles. These skeletons show the various angles. In order it is spread and tucked in.

Pandora Revisited

Pandora Revisited was one long journey. So this post is organized into the following.

⚡️Flash Overview⚡️
1. The 3 magic words
2. Initial modules
3. Chosen module
4. Latex process
5. Problems & solutions
6. Ideal ice tray
7. Actual ice tray
8. Ice making process
9. Ice configuration
10. Looking back


1. The 3 Magic Words

These are the 3 words I was given to incorporate into my module and my understanding of them.
⚡️Shift: a slight change in position
⚡️ Offset: a spin off shape in a different position or size from the original one
⚡️ Join: different parts being attached to each other


2. Initial Modules

⚡️Initial Module #1

This was my very first module. I was thinking in terms of chains and linking each module together to create the final composition. It was difficult to use clay for creating straight lines for the squares. A better method would be to either use tools like a ruler to cut straight clay blocks or use foam.

The module was out of the picture when I heard we will be making ice trays out of it. It will be difficult to pull this module out of the tray let alone make an ice tray of it in the first place because of how the squares are linked to each other.



⚡️Initial Module #2

After realizing that complex forms like initial module #1 was not ideal for creating ice trays, I decided to simply the module. Learning from my mistakes, this time I also used a foam and a wire cutter to attain the straight lines.

This module was inspired by the shape of Korean characters (ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ). Viewing the module from different angles reveal each character.

For the final composition, this module can be stacked or pieced together like the Tetris blocks.


3. Chosen Module

The module I actually chose to make an ice tray out of had circular lines rather than straight lines like the other initial modules. I chose this module over other for two main reasons. First, the ice trays we see in everyday life usually have molds in the shape of cubes. I wanted to against this norm and create a voluptuous round mold. Second, I was curious to see how the ice molds will turn out to look like for this module.

After creating the module, I realized it somewhat resembles a break water. Funnily enough, the module will be replicated in ice and will melt to become water.



4. Latex Process

After creating the modules, the next step is to create a temporary mold out of it. This mold will allow us to make replica of the modules. With 4 to 6 replicas we will create the final industrial silicon mold. This last mold will be our ice tray.

There is 2 ways to create a temporary mold. One is a brush-on latex method and the other one is a press-in silicon method.

I only used the brush-on latex method because it was more suitable for the shape of my module. My chosen and initial modules all had a certain amount of length. Thus, it would be difficult to press it into silicon and get all the details. The press-in silicon method would be more suitable for small sized modules or flat ones.

⚡️ Secure your module on baking paper

I actually sort of cheated for this part. I forgot to bring baking paper back to hall. So I secured my module on a plastic smooth surface. It worked pretty well because it was easy to detach the latex module in the end.

⚡️ Brush a thin layer of latex for the first 1-3 times

This is the most important step because it will determine how your mold will turn out. I tried to keep two things in mind. First, brush a thin layer of latex that covers every nook and corner of your module. Second, do not forget to brush latex around the bottom surface where your module is touching the baking paper (plastic surface). This will allow you to have a proper mold that have edges that you can hold onto.

⚡️ Brush a thicker layer of latex

The struggle is real. It is a fight of patience. Apply a thicker layer of latex that covers the whole of your module at least 7-9 times. Let it dry for a hour before you apply another layer.

⚡️ Repeat until you get a thick white layer of latex on your module

You will know your mold is ready when it become hard to see the color or texture of your module beneath the layer. When it is completely dry, pull the latex layer off your module.

Tada you got your brush-on latex mold now!


5. Problems & Solutions

⚡️ Problems

Problems problems everywhere. I found out maybe I chose the wrong module for my finals when I was done with the latex process.

It was impossible to pull the module out from the latex mold because of all the curves it had. Also, the holes on the bottom were too small for the whole module to come out.

Pulling the module out by force did not end well.

I cut the latex mold to make the holes bigger.

Creating a plaster module ended in failure as well. This was largely due to the difficulties in pulling out the plaster replica.

⚡️ Solutions 

Professor Cheryl helped me settle into 2 solutions for the final ice tray.

1. Create replicas of initial module #2 and pour industrial silicon over it
2. Pour industrial silicon over the latex mold of the chosen module


6. Ideal Ice Tray

I want the configuration of the ice replicas to be done by hand. Ideally, the ice replicas can be stacked on each other like break waters. So ideal ice tray will be 4 molds side by side and not attached to each other.




7. Actual Ice Tray

So the actual ice tray looks nothing like my ideal ice tray but things go down right? You’re supposed to make the best out of what you have.

⚡️ Solution 1:
Create replicas of initial module #2 and pour industrial silicon over it

-can create two ice replicas at a time

-the modules/replicas cannot be taken out

⚡️ Solution 2:
Pour industrial silicon over the latex mold of the chosen module

-was possible to create an industrial silicon mold from a latex mold
-relatively easy to separate the mold and module because the mold has a wide opening

-can only create one ice replica at a time
-the bottom was filled with hot glue gun to cover the holes