Edinburgh Local Group Maths Week Scotland events

From September 30 to October 6 2019, Maths Week Scotland took place: a Scotland-wide week of events and activity now in its third year. As part of this the Scottish RSS local groups organised activities to contribute to Maths Week Scotland’s goal of transforming Scotland into a 'maths-positive' nation.

The RSS Edinburgh local group organised one of its regular talks for 1 October to coincide with Maths Week Scotland. Organised jointly with the RSS Environmental Statistics Section, the event 'Quantifying ecological impacts of offshore renewables - a statistical perspective' featured speakers Andrew B Gill from Cranfield University, Kate Searle from Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Daniel Johnston from the British Trust for Ornithology.

Andrew Gill spoke on the data needs for determining the impacts of offshore renewable energy developments on marine organisms, highlighting cases with negative (and some positive) impacts on the marine environment and our need to understand these.

Kate Searle spoke specifically about offshore wind farms and their impact on seabirds, describing her in depth research on the main effects these developments have.

Finally, Daniel Johnston spoke on his PhD research relating to the impact of tidal stream turbines on diving seabirds such as black guillemots, discussing his studies on the spatial and temporal aspects of these birds’ behaviour and how they may be impacted by offshore renewables.

All three talks were well received by the audience, with questions and discussion with the speakers following each talk.

The RSS Edinburgh local group also facilitated a Maths Week activity on Science Saturday at the National Museum of Scotland on 5 October. The day's theme of Encryption featured activities on everything from Morse code bracelet making to using an enigma machine to send coded messages. The RSS Edinburgh stall ran an activity called 'Sociable Cards' from the RSS website – a game showing how statistical probability in a method called Kruskal’s Count can be used to make a simple card game which seems to be rigged (but isn’t!). This same algorithm is used in cryptography for decrypting encrypted messages. The activity was enjoyed by children (and adults) of all ages during the day, with lots of interesting discussion happening about possible ways of 'beating' the game.

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