Orion West and Inesh Mohan were both 9 years old when they came up with the concept of building a walking alpaca for an Odyssey of the Mind competition. Most kids in their age category stick to mostly pre-made vehicles. These two wanted to create something entirely different. According to the rules of Odyssey of the Mind, adults may not offer "outside assistance", which includes offering ideas about what materials to use, or how to build. Orion built the original design using legos with motors. The boys then built models out of balsa wood, which they then scaled up and built out of wood. They overcame many challenges during the build, figuring out how to make it have a walking motion, discovering the limits imposed by weight, etc. They were also required to break down the alpaca into two separate suitcases, and they came up with an ingenious chain-tensioning sytem to make that happen. The alpaca was not able to walk, due to the limitations of the motor that they used (another learning moment!), so they mounted it on wheels for practical motion, allowing the legs to "walk" now that there was no longer weight on them. This would be an amazing exhibit for young makers to see. It is truly impressive to see what two kids were able to build with enough hard work (over 100 hours) and determination!
Orion is 10 years old, but has been building from a very early age. By the time he was five years old, he could take apart and reassemble a carburetor. This past spring, he and another boy, Inesh Mohan, spent over 100 hours designing and building a walking alpaca for an Odyssey of the Mind competition. Due to the type of technical difficulties that occur when you venture WAAAYYY outside of the box, they did not end up completing the event before time was called, but their design and build was 100% child-driven and created. “Outside Assistance” from adults was strictly prohibited due to the contest rules.
After all of the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that the boys put in without being able to fully demonstrate their creation, their one request was that they be allowed to exhibit at Maker Faire, which they faithfully attend every year.