It all started with Michael & Lauren Bird's eldest son Devin building a 3' high kinetic "Jack the Smith", based on one in Abingdon, UK, that rings a bell at noon each day. Inspired by Devin's creation, Michael and good friend, Mark (now sadly deceased) built a kinetic moose for younger son Skylar's restaurant, The Blue Moose Café in New Hope, PA.
But the fun doesn't end there. Lauren discovered an exhibit of kinetic structures at the American Visionary Arts Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore, and a race of kinetic sculptures sponsored by the museum held in May every year. The race involves building and piloting a human propelled kinetic sculpture for 14 miles around the streets of Baltimore, as well as into the harbor (so it has to float) and through a mud pit and sand pit. The 40-50 entries vary in person power (number and age) and sophistication. Lauren encouraged Michael and Mark to build and consequently compete on a grander scale. They gathered a small group to pilot, plan, and build!
The following years saw colorful and imposing kinetic sculptures being created by this initial group of six friends and family members. The first was a colorful 13' duck, built for the 2013 race. It was made largely of soda bottles, hence the team name "Soda Quackers."
The Soda Quackers team has since grown from six to 16 enthusiastic members, with four more impressive and successful kinetic sculptures, winning the engineering award in 2015 and 2017, and best costumes in 2016. Visit our page "Previous Entries" for pictures and descriptions of our entries.
The race is challenging, but it is the camaraderie of the participants and enthusiasm of the spectators that makes this even so much fun and rewarding. Equally as fun and rewarding is the time spent by the Soda Quackers team in designing, creating, and building our artistic, people-powered vehicle during the cold winter months.
The prizes are not monetary. The whole experience is noncompetitive (sort of), with a focus on community and in supporting the fabulous AVAM museum. And let us not forget the fun!