Wednesday: Survival in the Wilderness

Self- sufficiency and survival in the wild were key themes among Wednesday's events.

Due to the great demand for places, Wednesday started with more workshops on how to build bird- boxes. All of the three Wednesday workshops were completely full and Nick plans to build some more bird-boxes for the woods at the Carriganore campus.

Sometimes it’s difficult to think that how people lived without laptops, ipods, or televisions. How could a person survive without electricity or running water? Eoin Gill gave a presentation on how science can help you survive in a variety of hostile environments, whether you find yourself in the freezing cold tundra or the baking desert. Eoin showed students how to build fires using pieces of wood , catch food and even how to find water in the driest conditions.

The Peoples’ Park hosted a nature trail and walk exploring the biodiversity of the park with Ella Ryan of the Waterford City Council. Using fun yet simple activities, Ella demonstrated to primary school students that every living thing is connected. Pictures of the students having outdoor fun were published in the Examiner.

Dr Colm Mulcahy gave an excellent lecture on Martin Gardner, the American mathematician who died in 2010 and who was one on the most prolific maths writers of the last century. Colm gave interesting insights into Gardner’s lifework as a ‘recreational mathematician’ and highlighted the many facets of his career as a mathematician, educator, magician, sceptical thinker and writer, among others. During his lifetime, Martin Gardner published over 70 books and wrote his famous Mathematical Games column in the Scientific American magazine from 1956 to 1981. Maths Week Ireland hopes to celebrate the annual Gathering for Gardner, which takes place on the 21st of October, as part of Maths Week 2011.

Sean O’Connor from the Copper Coast Geopark gave a talk on Natural Navigation in the evening.  Long before GPS were invented, people used the sun, the moon and the stars to pinpoint locations. A little bit of knowledge (for instance knowing that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west) along with basic maths and tracking the movement of the sun or moon over a short period can help us discover our location anywhere. The position of churches and of trees, shrubs and lichens can also give insight into directions of north, south, east and west. Even urban surroundings can give clues into compass location.  The talk was on too early to practice with real stars but everyone was left with plenty of information to try out in the future.

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