Penblwydd hapus to Alfred Russel Wallace!
Today, 8 January, marks the 190th birthday of the intrepid explorer and brilliant naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Born in 1823 in the village of Llanbadoc near Usk, Wallace went on to be one of the most celebrated scientists of his era.
Wallace spent much of his early working years as a civil engineer in the south Wales area, particularly in the Vale of Neath. This involved spending a great deal of time working outdoors, which allowed him to indulge in his growing passion for natural history.
Soon, inspired by the writings of traveling naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin, Wallace set out on his own intrepid travels. These adventures started in the Amazon Basin and were followed later by his explorations of the Malay Archipelgo.
During these trips Wallace collected many thousands of birds, butterflies and beetles, many of which were new to science. The biological diversity he encountered inspired his thinking in many areas of biology such as the distribution and evolution of species. His brilliance did not go un-noticed and in 1858 he famously co-published the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin.
During 2013 Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, along with other museums and institutions across the world, will be marking the centenary of the death of A R Wallace in a celebration of his life and legacy. Keep an eye on our web site and blog for further information as we finalise details and dates. You will also be able to follow other events and exhibitions on the Wallace100 website.
Oriel 1: the final days....
Just in case you don't know - Oriel 1 will be closing on 31 December, so make sure you visit us before then, there's not much time!
The gallery is full of such great objects - my favourites are the good luck charms, the (previously) concealed shoe and the Victorian brooches and jewellery made with woven human hair.
I've pretty much finished my duties for the year! This month we've been busy making Christmas decorations - tissue paper pom poms, paperchains and christmas tree decorations made out of felt - it's been lots of fun.
Next year I'll be starting up two new things - a craft group for adults and a reading group for adults, and we'll also be carrying on with our old favourites - quilt club, craftivism, art cart... it's going to be great!
Wishing you a happy Christmas and wonderful new year!
best wishes, sian.
Twelve more sleeps
I can’t believe it’s just twelve more sleeps until Christmas! I've sent you all a Christmas card in the post to thank you all for the hard work you have done so far.
This is the sixth and last week of recording until January so Merry Christmas from Baby Bulb and me.
I’ve really enjoyed all of the comments and questions I’ve had this year and look forward to answering more in the New Year.
I do hope you all have a fantastic break and return in January eager to see how your bulbs are doing. If you are concerned that your bulbs may not be safe over Christmas then take them home with you – but remember they must be keep outside in the cold!
The weather has been very cold in places over the last week or so but it is predicted that it will get warmer. Harwell Primary School reported -10 °c last Thursday. Very cold indeed! Can you confirm this is correct?
My favourite Christmas carol is the ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ because it contains two of our native evergreen plants. The Celts used these plants to celebrate the Winter Solstice and of course they are used by Christians to celebrate Christmas.
If you don’t know it, here are the lyrics: http://www.carols.org.uk/the_holly_and_the_ivy.htm
Your questions, my answers:
Greyfriars RC Primary School: We are really enjoying this! Prof.P: So glad to hear it!
DarranPark Primary: There aren't any signs of growth yet. Prof.P: Give it time; you should see something in January.
GlyncollenPrimary School: We have seen a pattern in our temperatures this week. We have also found out a way to stop our rain gauge from falling over. We hope we don't have any snow next week. From Glyncollen year 4 Prof.P: Great to hear you are seeing patterns in your weather data and that you have found a way to stop your rain gauge from falling over. Please let me know how you do it?
BalcurviePrimary School: We have had a lot of ice this week and freezing temperatures. We also had snow over last weekend and on Thursday. Prof.P: I hope it gets warmer for you at the weekend!
St Joseph's Primary School (Penarth): We have noticed how much colder is has got this week. There has been some ice on our plant pots and we feel really sorry for the poor bulbs! Prof.P: Don’t worry too much I’m sure they will be fine.
KilmaronSpecialSchool: Records for rainfall on days with negative temperatures may not be correct as the water had frozen and expanded so reading may be higher than actual water collected Prof.P: Thanks for letting me know Kilmaron; I will make a note of it. If it happens again melt it before you measure. Thanks
Ysgol Pencae: It rained cats and dogs on Friday and was milder. Did it rain more in Cardiff? Prof.P: We only had 10mms of rain in Cardiff a quarter of what you recorded!
Birds and berries
Snow has fallen in Ladybank Primary School in Scotland and Nether Kellet Primary School reported frozen rain in their rain gauge! Here in Cardiff too, we have begun to see frost in the mornings.
At this time of the year, birds get very hungry and start to feed on berries. This blackbird began eating the crab apples from the tree at the bottom of my garden. I don't cut the tree back so it becomes a good source of food for the birds in the winter. This is a female black bird - they are brown and don't have yellow beaks – so quite different to the males.
Don't forget to feed the birds over the winter. Find out how to make a speedy bird cake.
Sixty five schools sent in weather records this week! Thanks so much to all of you who sent in your recordings.
Your questions, my answers:
TorView Community School: Please accept the above data as being CORRECT for TorView CommunitySchool. The previous 'temperature' details were wrongly submitted in degrees 'Fahrenheit' instead of 'centigrade.' Prof.P: Well spotted! Thanks for letting me know, I will remove the Fahrenheit data from your charts.
Medlar with Wesham CE Primary School: Hi professor plant there has a little bit of rain so we have not had to water them much. They are not growing yet but they are staying healthy. We are being very patient but we just can't wait for them to grow. Prof.P: Good things come to those who wait! It’s so nice when the flowers open in the spring. It cheers me up every year!
RogietPrimary School: How are you professor plant? It has been very cold here in Rogiet. Prof.P: I’m good thanks Rogiet, been cold here too, but I’m wrapping up warm. I hope you are too?
Your school: Westwood CP School: When I measure the rainfall on a Monday do I count the rainfall that fell over the weekend too. Or should I empty the contents when I get to school on Monday and measure at our usual time of 2pm? St. Mary's RC Primary School (Lancashire): What happens on Monday when the rain gauge includes Saturdays and Sunday? Prof.P: Hi Westwood & St Mary’s! Good question! You should measure the rainfall that fell over the weekend, that way we will know exactly how much rain has fallen that week.
LadybankPrimary School: We think our thermometer is broken because it was snowing today and it read 15 degrees. Prof.P: I will send you a new one immediately. Enjoy the snow! I’m very jealous.
Ysgol Pencae (Conwy): We had lots of rain over the weekend. The weather has got colder. We are measuring our rainfall in ml with a homemade gauge, is this correct? Prof.P: Hi Ysgol Pencae. Great that you have managed to build your own rain gauge! Please could you measure the rainfall in mm rather than ml. Everyone across the country measures in mm so in order to compare we need it in mms. See this video about how to do this. You will be able to convert the mls back into mm by pouting the amounts you measured into your rain gauge and seeing what the mms are. Hope that makes sense. Thanks
Ysgol Capelulo: This week has been really cold and wet. It was very wet on Monday and really cold on Thursday, on Wednesday and Thursday there was no rainfall. This week in Wales it has been very windy. We enjoy taking other people out to help us take the readings. Goodbye. :) Prof.P: Great idea getting others involved, glad you are enjoying!
KilmaronSpecialSchool: We have had to move the location of our rain funnel as one of the pupils in another class was caught emptying it out. It is now hidden behind a bush outside our classroom window. Prof.P: Oh dear, good plan to hide it!
St Joseph's Primary School (Penarth): We have noticed how much the temperature has fallen this week and we are concerned about our poor bulbs getting too cold! Prof.P: Don’t worry they will be expecting it to be cold at this time of year.
Greyfriars RC Primary School: One of our pots has been knocked over we are worrying about vandalism. Prof.P: Oh no! If you re-plant them they are often fine. If the vandals are from outside the school perhaps you should think if there is anywhere safer around the school? If they are from in the school you should talk to them.
Your school: Ysgol Porth Y Felin: To PP the plants are fine we have 2 plants that have started to grow and the temperatures are quite close apart from Thursday, when it was very cold. Prof.P: Gosh growing already!
St Mary's CatholicPrimary School: It has been very cold this week; we hope our bulbs are tucked up nice and warm in their pots. Prof.P: I’m sure they will be fine!
Thorneyholme RC Primary School: Yo prof plant hows it rollin'!!!!????? Cute little bulbs are part of our school now. Prof.P: Great to hear they have settled in.
Nether Kellet Primary School: Today the water froze cool as ice!! Prof.P: Brrrrgh! To get the measurement you need to bring it in to defrost to water.
"It's beggining to feel at lot like Winter!"
What a week! More floods and now turning Frosty!
The highest rain record this week came from Thorneyholme RC Primary School and Westwood CP School both with 100mms of rain. As WestwoodSchool pointed out this week they are very lucky to not live by a river. Some schools who received less rain but did get flooding in their locality.
Nant Y Coed School explained: We've actually had 23mm of rain since yesterday. There was lots of flooding in the area and some of the teachers couldn't get home at all and some didn’t get home until nearly midnight.
Study the maps to see why. If you click on the option that says 'Terrain' in Google maps you will be able to see all the contours of the mountains and hills. If you follow this link to where Ysgol Nant Y Coed school is situated you will see that when the rain falls in the surrounding area it all collects and runs to Llandudno Junction area - so if there is very heavy rainfall the area may flood. If you look at the Environment Agency flood map it highlights the areas that suffer from flooding and you will see that the areas around does flood just as the school reported.
Take a look at different areas in your locality and see if you can predict if or why certain areas flood. Then visit the environment agency flood map to see where the areas of high risk are.
This link has some animations about the different factors that cause a flood.
Oakfield Primary asks: Is the rainfall heavy for this time of year? Prof.P: Good question! Our records show that the average rainfall since we began recording are around 150mm of rain in November in Wales. We can't compare this figure until the end of the month but in some places 100mm of rain have fallen in a day! So yes it is high for this time of year.
Your questions, my answers:
Thorneyholme RC Primary School: The bulb is so cute!!
########## hash tag (no reason at all someone in class is obsessed with hash tags!) See you next week p plant. Thorneyholme xoxo Prof.P: High #Thorneyholme #Prof.P
Ysgol Capelulo: It rained a lot on Thursday but it was very windy so not a lot of rain went into the rain collector, but there was a lot of rain on Thursday night. It also rained a lot on Wednesday night. The temperature on Tuesday was quiet warm. Prof.P: Great recording!
Stanford in the ValePrimary School: What a week.... Floods on Wednesday, Thursday high winds and blue skies Friday!
Stanford Gardening Club Prof.P: Yes a very crazy week of weather!
We have wondered about the rainfall records - we were putting the rain gauge out each morning, but then thought this isn't recording all the rain at night we have had recently? We are now leaving it out all the time in between emptying it at about 2:30 each afternoon. We hope this is ok? Prof.P: Great, well spotted, I leave mine out so it collects all the rain too then just empty it once a day.
Ysgol Porth Y Felin. Hello P.P we are very amazed about Thursday because of all the floods!!! There aren’t many differences between the temperatures but there’s quite a lot in the rainfall! Happy planting!!!! Prof.P: Yes so much rain falling some days!
We have had a lot of rain this week and the strong wind blew our water gauge down so we hope our rainfall measurement is accurate. Prof.P: Thanks for letting me know, this can’t be helped sometimes mine falls over too!
St Joseph's Primary School (Penarth) we have been very excited about taking measurements this week. We were interested to see that, so much rain fell on Tuesday night, our car park was flooded! Prof.P: Gosh, I hope none of the cars were flooded, glad you’re enjoying!
Greyfriars RC Primary School
I love the plants there doing very well. Prof.P: Great news Greyfriars!
Friday rainfall could have been more than 50 ml but measurer stopped at 50. Prof.P: Gosh, perhaps you need a bigger rain gauge?
Problem of people standing on our plants but we are working to get it sorted. Prof.P: Oh dear! I do hope you manage to sort it out – please let me know.
We have completed our work on the Wallace Palms!
Over recent months, botanical conservators Vicky Purewal and Annette Townsend have been carrying out painstaking work on a series of eleven historical palm specimens. They were collected around 1850 by the renowned British naturalist and explorer Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913) during his travels in the Amazon. Wallace is best known for his studies on evolution, which helped trigger the publication of Charles Darwin’s ground breaking research ‘Origin of Species’.
The Wallace palms reside at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the curators there requested that Vicky and Annette, who are specialist conservators in botanical collections at AC-NMW, carry out the necessary conservation work. The specimens are over 150 years old and had to endure adverse conditions in the hold of a ship, and then later to contend with soot and pollution from Battersea Power station. The palms were understandably very fragile and in need of plenty of careful cleaning, re-structuring and repackaging so that their true splendour could be appreciated by all. The palms have been re-housed in custom made boxes so that they can travel back to Kew safely and are also now fit for display.
You will be able to see the palms for yourself on display at AC-NMW in Oct 2013, as RBG Kew will be loaning some of the collection for our Wallace’s bicentenary exhibition and celebrations.
This week has seen floods across many areas of the UK - see the images in the links below. Stepaside School reported high flooding in many areas.
I suspect a few schools will be closed today and perhaps unable to send in their records. I do hope everyone will be safe and dry.
In my garden we had 30mm of rain on Wednesday and I had to rescue a frog who was hopping along a busy road on my way home. Harwell School reported 15mm of rain whilst Rhydypenau school in Cardiff and Balmerino outside Dundee also reported 30mm of rain!
- Wales - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-20458267
- Scotland - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20439824
- England - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-20441316
Last week 57 schools sent in their weather records many thanks to you all!
Study the records. If you would like to look-up the weather and see how much rain everyone has been having, follow this link then select the school you would like to study. Please check that your records are displaying correctly and let me know if any problems.
Your questions, my answers:
RAF Benson Primary School: We would like to send our records on a Thursday as it is the evening of our gardening club. Prof.P: No problem, doing it like this, but as the web site is set-up to only allow you to send in a week of weather at a time, you will only be able to upload the weather from the week before. Thanks.
Medlar with Wesham CE Primary School: Why aren't our bulbs growing yet we are impatient. Prof.P: they will be growing - but under the ground. Ask your teacher if you could grow one of your spare bulbs in a clear gel so you can watch the roots growing, but you must be patient. If they grew above the soil now they could be harmed by the winter frost.
Ysgol Porth Y Felin: We are interested by the fact that all the temperatures are nearly the same and it only rained on Monday. Prof.P: My temperatures have been fairly similar too, temperature wise it is very mild at the moment. Test if your thermometer definitely working properly?
Westwood CP School: Cold day on Friday! We had a little shower. That is the 1mm of rainfall. Prof.P: great accurate recording Westwood!
Experiencing Volunteering at St Fagans as part of the Our Museum Project
5th November saw the Our Museum Project Partners arrive at St Fagans to experience a day in the life of a volunteer at the museum. Luck was on our side, the weather was with us and we were all ready for a fantastic day.
The St Fagans Our Museum project has been going from strength to strength. The Initiative is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and aims at bringing museums and communities together. The St Fagans project hopes to do this by building a community of volunteers at the museum.
Over the past year the museum has been working with a dedicated group of Community Partners who are supporting us on the project. They have been involved in decision making every step of the way and are now fully embedded into the Our Museum initiative and the project at St Fagans.
To give the Community Partners a better sense of what it is like to volunteer at the museum, we felt that a day spent on site, carrying out different activities alongside staff would work well. So, we set about preparing an action packed day!
Everyone was extremely keen and it was felt that this would be a great way of getting to know each other in an informal setting.
So, the morning of 5th November saw us all trekking up to the Castel Garden’s where we spent a busy morning digging up the old rose bed in preparation for re planting with Peter and Gareth from the Gardening Team. The sun was shining and we all had a fantastic time. Everyone entered into the competitive spirit as we were split into two groups to dig the patch, the aim being to meet in the middle.
After a fascinating talk from Owain Rhys on the recent Refugee House project we enjoyed a delicious lunch before venturing out on site again with Ian Daniel, Steve Burrow and Janet Wilding. Up to the Celtic Village for an afternoon of clay making, daubing and copper beating.
We all really enjoyed the activities and got thoroughly muddy in the process. Through discussions with staff the Community Partners were able to see how the Our Museum Project will fit into the exciting re development of St Fagans.
Thank you to everyone involved for making the day such a great success! Hats off to the volunteers!
Describing new worms
Last chance for Animal & Plant Games
Last chance to have a go at the Animal and Plants Games Trail
The Animal and Plants Games Trail is in its last remaining weeks at National Museum Cardiff. Look for the Cheetah coin symbol in our Lower and Upper Natural History galleries, Evolution of Wales, Natural World and Origins galleries to follow it.
You can also follow the trail by picking up one of the colourful Animal and Plant Games leaflets. They can be found on a stand near the entrance to the Evolution of Wales gallery, near the top of the stairs to the restaurant. Alternatively, you can ask in the Clore Discovery Centre.
But hurry, the trail will be taken down in the New Year and the leaflets are running out fast!
Animals and plants have to compete every day to survive. Strength, size, speed and agility can all help give them an advantage over competitors. Along the trail you can discover specimens of record breaking plants and animals such as: the famously fast Cheetah, the small but strong Dung Beetle, deadly Rosary Peas and record breaking cones from the Big Cone Pine!