Endangered Animal Prototyping

Background

This week I worked on an assignment to focus on using materials that I was planning on throwing away. Instead, I wanted to utilize them to create a prototype to help people think about the relation between the things we make and their impacts on our planet. So I decided to leverage my focus on endangered animals. To be more specific, I chose to focus on Angelshark.

How did I get to my decision?

Before I start talking about creating this prototype, how did I get to my decision?

  • I used iucnredlist (https://www.iucnredlist.org/) to have a high-level understanding of the type of animals in endangered.
  • I wanted to focus on aquatic animals, more specifically on sharks, mainly because I am fascinated by them and enjoy water activities.
  • Looking at the list of sharks, this one came across my eyes mainly because it shows that the population has been decreasing and critically endangered.
  • With the data and quick and dirty search, I decided to choose the Angelshark

Research Process

Before I start prototyping, I wanted to research the animal I have chosen. For the first step, I wanted to define the questions I wanted to understand.

  1. What is an Angelshark?
  2. What kind of ecosystem does the Angelshark live in?
  3. What is the diet of the Angelshark?
  4. Why is the Angelshark going extinct?

Second, I started to conduct secondary research to answer my questions and posted findings on a post-it note

Lastly, I have summarized my answers. I was able to find it throughout my research.

Link to the Miro Board here: Click here

Materials/Junk

Now it was time to start creating the prototype. While working on this prototype, I wanted to use products that I was planning on throwing away. The products/materials I have used are:

  • Cardboard box
  • Box cutter
  • Polyethylene foam
  • Staples
  • Tape

How some of that “materials/junks” or is contributing to ecological and ecosystemic destruction?

One junk I used that has a negative contribution to ecological/ecosystemic is polyethylene foam. It is one of the materials closest to Styrofoam; this poses a threat to the general ecological/ecosystemic and human health. Also, these junks would usually end up in landfill waste or the ocean. Since Styrofoam is made up of mostly air, it floats to the shores of our lakes and oceans, which could be ended up eaten by a marine-based animal.

Sketches/Blueprints

Now it was time to start sketching and blueprinting out ideas before start working on the physical prototype.

The first thing I’ve done is get the top-side image of an Angelshark

Next, I wanted to outline the Angelshark so that when cutting out the base, I can reference it component by component to try to get as accurate as I can.

Lastly, I wanted to better understand the depth and dimension, so I referenced a more live image.

Prototype Process

Now that I was able to get a couple of examples as references. I started my prototyping process by cutting out the base using the foam.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a big success for the first time, as you can see below…

On my second attempt, I was able to successfully cut out a base that matches the outlines of the images better.

Afterward, I wanted to refine it further to better to have a better accurate comparison with the images I have found about the Angelshark.

Next, I gather the leftover foam, and my failed first failed iteration to be a filling for the base.

I was able to leverage materials from leftovers and my failed iteration to become the filling or depth of the Angelshark.

Final Prototype!

After going through iterations, I present to you the Angelshark!

Self-Reflection

This project was a fun project mainly because I tend to work with only software products, so it was really nice to try something different. To summarize a few additional self-reflection.

  • Creating prototypes with physical objects is not the same as software. In software, it’s easy to duplicate the base or go back if a mistake has been made. However, when working on physical prototypes, that’s something that can’t be done.
  • Despite not having an actual Angelshark building this prototype made me feel more empathetic towards them, mainly because of the research I did, understanding it and why it’s going extinct, and actually being able to build a model replica version of it.

Next Steps

Two next steps I want to set for myself personally are.

  • Start exposing myself to have more experience with physical prototyping
  • I would definitely like to start being more aware in regards to recycling and what I purchase. Looking more into depth at how some of the materials that are being found in everyday objects or packages made me realize how damaging it is to both the environment and human health.

Contact Information

For any questions or feedback, feel free to send an email at Hi@christopher.kim

Research Sources

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/common-angelshark

Product Designer