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Bears - some information

The movie was made in 2009-10 by two students who together won that year's bear artifact/picture/contribution competition. I regret that I do not know their names (though they did get their prizes). If you do know, please email and tell me so I can give proper credit.

For those who are wondering, the bears sub-module is focussed mainly on various methods for distinguising between a black bear and a grizzly bear. It is entirely serious and there are no jokes (unlike the Differential Equations main module which is a complete hoot). The short movie manages to refer to a surprisingly large number of points from the sub-module - how far they can swim, how fast they can run, how high they can climb trees, etc. It is better if you were there, believe me.

During the course of my nearly 30 year career as a lecturer of Mathematics, I have taught the bears sub-module maybe 10 times (in two different universities). My collection of student-produced bear artifacts (origami, art, essays, jokes, cartoons, posters, teddy bears, and now a movie) is second to none!

I have several times been approached by ex-students (who I usually do not recognise) on buses, in airports, on the street, in pubs and restaurants etc. They introduce themselves by saying something very similar to: "didn't you lecture me about bears - I don't remember what the main course was". It is rare that anyone mentions that I taught them any mathematics.

I have a collection of postcards, mostly sent from the USA. They all say something very close to: "I knew the bear information would come in useful one day. Here I am in Park X. You will see that it is a picture of a black/grizzly bear" (depending on which way the bear is pointing, to the left or to the right). Sometimes there is a claim that a piece of information from the module has saved a life. I have never received a postcard of any kind about my teaching of mathematics.

There is a moral here somewhere. But it eludes me. Just remember, if you are tucked up in bed, listen out for the pad pad pad of bear footsteps on the stairs. And if you can, dream of mathematics - it is a lot safer.