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The Duck

Mark Ward, Deputy Director of the AVAM, has always been a big part of its Kinetic Sculpture Race. In past years, he has always been a pilot of one of the sculptures; he piloted Bernie the frog two years in a row. This year he was working along side the Catholic Community School.

"This is the first year I really won't be a pilot since we started. Because I'm working with the duck team, I want to be there around the kids; I'm going to be apart of their pit crew," Ward said.

He said the entire middle school was involved, and that the children came up with the idea for the duck.

“The duck is supposed to look like a caricature rubber ducky, but in fact the head kind of looks like Big Bird ,” Ward said.

Ward said the bicycle frame, used for the duck sculpture, was donated to the Catholic Community School by another artist who was designing a sculpture for last year’s race, which he didn’t finish in time. He said that artist decided to build an entirely new sculpture for this year’s race, and that he didn’t need the old frame.

"I didn't want to see the frame go to waste, and it saved the school from having to build their own," Ward said.

According to Ward, this isn't a race to win; there are several different prizes awarded for different categories. Some of these categories include: Worst Honorable mention, Next to Last Award, Best Pit Crew, Best Costume, Pilots' Choice, Peoples' Choice and the Speed Award.

"This is something that's fun, and it's OK to be silly," Ward said. "It's theater on wheels; it's people in costume."

Ward said he had a lot of fun working with the Catholic Community School, and he hopes to work with children on future races.

"They've done a great job; they're a great group of kids," Ward said. "The process is really amazing . They don't even realize they're working as a team. It's pretty amazing what it brings out of people."

Ward said the museum got a lot of volunteers for the workshop, but they got even more for the race.

Barbara Sheehan and Kate Daley, teachers from the Catholic Community School, led the children through the process of building the duck. Daley said that because they are affiliated with a middle school, they decided to use old milk cartons for the duck’s feathers.

“It took close to 700 milk cartons, and we painted them with an oil-based paint. You can imagine what it’s like with 40 middle-schoolers and a lot of paint,” Daley said.

Daley said there were 35 children on the team, made up of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, and they were paired up depending on their size. She said this way each child would have the opportunity to pilot the sculpture. As for the rest of the children, they followed along next to the duck as a pack.

"We're traveling as a pack. The kids will be roller-blading, riding skateboards or bikes along side the sculpture throughout the entire race," Daley said. "We want the kids to be involved the entire time."

Sheehan and Daley were present when the duck was transported to a nearby public landing to see if it would float.

“We were relieved! We hadn’t tested it before, and we only got our pontoons yesterday… trying to figure out which one went on what leg took us a good half-hour to 45 minutes in itself, so we were a little worried that it wasn’t going to work,” Daley said.

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