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Outdoors tech adventures!

Jamillah Knowles | 11:22 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

Hello Outriders! This week on the podcast I have been learning about sunflowers, getting excited about geography field work and our Chris Vallance went out to choose his own adventure.

First let’s consider sunflowers, through a lens of mathematics.

As we know this year is Turing Year, marking the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth and celebrating the extraordinary work he did. You might not make the connection immediately, but Alan Turing was not just an amazing code breaker, he also had an interest in the ways in which mathematics fits into the natural world.

Jonathan Swinton is a computational biologist working with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and he explained how we can do a little maths and brighten up our gardens at the same time.

A tip of the hat to Outriders listener @erinmaochu on twitter for making sure I found Turning’s Sunflowers - I’m very glad you did!





For those who would like to spend even more time outdoors after they have planted their sunflowers, there’s an event coming up in May that might well appeal. Its for those who code, develop or design and geography teachers looking for a dynamic way to use technology in the classroom. The first fieldwork hack is taking place in Slapton Ley.

Ant Miller works by day in Research and Development at the BBC but in his spare time he does what he calls ‘guerilla innovation’ - that is getting involved in hack days and maker faires and weekends like the this one. The event runs from the 18th until the 21st of May, so let’s hope that they’re in for some good weather!

Ant Miller


This year marks three decades since the publication of the bestselling fantasy book "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain". The book was unusual because it allowed readers to chose how the story unfolded. I’d get my nerd-card taken off me if I lie and said I didn’t. I loved choose your own adventure books.

 Taking control of a story and being able to re-read in in different ways was so exciting! The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a classic of the so-called game-book genre it inspired many who now work in the UK games industry.

Chris Vallance met up with the books co-author Ian Livingstone for a game-book style interactive interview in the mysterious caverns under BBC Television Centre.

Ian Livingstone exploring with Chris Vallance in possibly one of my favourite pieces of audio so far this year. To mark the 30th anniversary Ian will publish a new book titled - "Blood of the Zombies" - hmmm braiiiiiiiinzzzzz something tasty to look forward to!

If there’s something online that you would like to hear more about, if you’re a hacker, maker or digital Outrider in your own right - then you must get in touch.

Tweet at me on Twitter where we are @BBC_Outriders or find us on Facebook and Google+ by searching for Outriders there and adding us to your information feed for discussion and updates.

Until next week!

~ Jamillah


  • Comment number 1.

    Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a classic! I remember reading it while on holiday when I was about 10 years old. There is a new generation of gamebooks that are even better but in the same tradition. Recently I read one called "The Renegade Wizard" - awesome stuff.


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