The ORACLE speaker event was the highlight of the weekend, as students heard from a wannabe American footballer who turned his life around with his ‘what-if’ philosophy, and is now a successful businessman and public speaker. Also speaking was Kyle Grant, a PhD student in Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford. In collaboration with NASA, Kyle’s work concentrates on growing edible plants in ‘strange’ and ‘difficult’ environments – namely, the surface of Mars. Joking that Ridley Scott’s science-fiction drama, ‘The Martian’, in which Matt Damon’s character, stranded alone on Mars, sets about using his botany skills to grow food, is based on him, Kyle informed us that potatoes are currently the main focus of his efforts, with their properties identified as most suitable for adaptation for Martian soil.
Then it was yet another day of activity and cultural exchange yesterday, as Counsellors Jake, Flavia and Tom took the students to the Uni Parks to play rounders ―a charming English take on baseball, but more often played at picnics than monumental ballparks attended by thousands. Jake was rather amused at the learning curve on display, as students new to the game cut corners of the field or ran around twice (which is actually quite impressive).
There was also sport to be enjoyed at a remove, as students and counsellors alike avidly checked the Wimbledon scores. Something of a rivalry developed between the Team Nadal and Team Federer, even though the two were not playing against each other. Commiserations to Team Nadal, and congratulations to Team Federer, whose champion lives to play another day!
Psychology students later made guinea pigs of the counsellors, investigating emotional reactions to musical stimuli. They had the counsellors listen to three songs, and report their feelings after listening, such as happiness, sadness, nostalgia, enthusiasm etc. They drew up some interesting comparative results that will add a further dimension to their study of the human psyche!
To round off a day of friendly competition and play, students and counsellors played board games in the college’s Junior Common Room. Cluedo was a particular novelty for some, but all enjoyed the mystery component; and there were some fierce battles of the mind fought over the chessboard!