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Prime numbers stand out

A whole number that cannot be made by multiplying other whole numbers is called a Prime Number.

A whole number is a normal number like 1,2,3,4, etc., and not a fraction or a decimal number, like 1.2, or 3.4 for instance.

So you can divide up some whole numbers exactly, but not all. You call this a Composite Number.

When you cannot divide a whole number exactly you call it a Prime Number.

Here’s an example; 6 is a Composite number because you make it by multiplying 2 x 3, but 7 is Prime because you cannot. In fact, the only way to make the number 7 is by multiplying it by 1 (7 x 1=7). This is another way to identify prime numbers.

This is how prime numbers work in the world around us in the story of an insect called a Cicada.

Only David Attenborough can explain this well enough!

In North America, the cicada’s survival depends on using the theory of prime numbers. They appear every 13 or 17 years. Both of these are Prime Numbers.

These insects are tapping into the code of mathematics for their survival. The cicadas unwittingly discovered the primes using evolutionary tactics but humans have understood that these numbers not just the key to survival but are the very building blocks of the code of mathematics. 

There are no cicadas with 12, 14, 15, 16 or 18-year life cycles. This gives the cicadas an advantage. If a cicada predator appears every six years in the forest, then a cicada with an eight or nine-year life cycle will coincide with the predator much more often than a cicada with a seven-year prime life cycle. 

Here’s an information sheet to download from Chicken Newspaper about Prime Numbers.

Downloads · Lesson plans

Gorillas in Troubl​​​e

The world’s gorillas are in trouble. It turns out that there are 880 mountain gorillas left.

More than half live in the Virunga Mountains in Africa. These mountains separate the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The rest live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Here’s a fact sheet about gorillas in danger to download for free.
Head over to Chicken Newspaper to read the full story. 

Books & Periodicals · Lesson plans

History: Queen of the Celts

Boudica, also known as Boudicca and Boudeacea was queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe a long time ago. She led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in the year 60 or 61. The Romans managed to defeat her and her forces, and sometime in 60 or 61 she died.

Here’s an information sheet about Boudica which you can download or print and keep.

Books & Periodicals · Digital · ideas · Lesson plans

The World needs Elephants

Elephants live in 37 African and six Asian countries. The African is larger, and is in fact the largest animal on land.

Its shoulders can be up to 11 feet high and it can weigh up to six tons. Elephants use their trunks to breathe, wash, or hold things. They live up to 45 years in the wild, but only about 18 years in zoos. Animal rights organisations believe there are 15,000 to 20,000 elephants in captivity worldwide.

“Elephants need to be in constant motion.”

“They walk up to 50 miles a day. When they don’t move, that’s when they have physical problems.”

Read the full article here

The largest elephant ever was an adult African male who weighed around a ton (24,000 pounds) and about 4m (13 feet) tall at the shoulder.

Elephant brains are three or four times larger than humans, but are a smaller portion of overall body weight. They have one tusk they use more than the other, just like humans do with their hands.

Today, many elephants are in national parks or other managed areas. That is the closest thing to being the wild as they can get. Because they need a lot of space to roam, it is argued that zoos are not the best places for elephants.

There were millions of African elephants and hundreds of thousands of Asian elephants alive at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there are between 450,000 – 700,000 African elephants and 35,000 – 40,000 wild Asian elephants. They are in danger.

Elephant poaching is a another big threat to their existence both Asia and Africa. “Poisoning and shooting and electrocutions of elephants is a big problem,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, director of the species conservation program with the World Wildlife Fund.

But habitat loss is the greatest threat to the vast majority of wildlife, including elephants. Approximately half of the world’s original forests are gone, and what remains is still being removed ten times faster than it can be replaced. 

At the same time, elephant attacks on humans are increasing, especially after the matriarchs of a herd are killed. Without supervision, the teenage orphans have no boundaries and some become very aggressive.

After a crackdown on poaching in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, elephant numbers in one national park nearly doubled in five years.  

Tusk, a charity working to save animals in danger, says that helping people understand the importance of wildlife and how to avoid conflict is essential for developing greater tolerance. 

They also have some practical options, from using beehive fences (elephants don’t like bees), to elephant trenches, and using deterrents like chilli (yes, chilli!) alongside planning better use of land. Read more about it here.

Elephants never forget, let’s not forget them.

This article first appeared in Chicken Newspaper for Children