Jahvan Innerarity
High School Third Place Winner - 2010 Survival Design Challenge
Surviving in the Forest

The first issue I would address would be gathering water which is somewhat an easier task than obtaining food. This method I’m using is simple and was previously used in a similar situation. After I set up the system to collect water, I will use the components of my backpack to create a few hunting tools to harvest food. The primary food source would be fish from the nearby stream. Any extra equipment will be used for other necessities such as a fire and shelter.

Gathering water would seem easy at first because all that is needed to be done is drink the water from the small stream. However the quality of the water is unknown and may inflict disease or any unwanted viruses upon me and my colleague. Drinking clear and cleaner water is a necessity if you are stranded in a forest. First I would create some form of container to collect the water from the stream. By sharpening the mirror from my bag on a rock I can use the sharp mirror to cut wood from trees. I would cut any of the soft wood in the forest I can find to limit the energy and time of work on cutting. Then I would form the container and hold it in place using the gum I had chewed while cutting the wood and also the scarf to wrap around any open creases.

One method of purifying water is by running it through sand or fine natural particles that remove any harmful impurities. Although it may not remove all the substances from the water and make it completely clean, the sand will make it better to drink than the raw water from the stream. To set up this system I would first fill my new container with water from the stream with the least amount of dirt possible and place it on top of a flat log or rock. Next to the container I would place a line of wide green leaves overlapping each other to form a long chain similar to pipes. Then, using leaves and a few twigs, I will create a kind of basket almost like a nest to hold the sand. The woven nest will have a hole on the bottom but will be small enough for the water and not the sand to fall through. Lastly, after setting up the system, I will simply drill a hole into my container with my sharpened mirror to let the water flow through the needles and down through the nest filled with sand and into my plastic water bottle. To make this method faster than it would usually take to clean water (almost a day) I widened to the hole in the container and used to widest leaves I could find. While this water is being cleaned I can then spend the rest of the evening creating tools for fishing in the stream before the sun descends completely and the woods become pitch black.

The next job would be to find and gather food using the remaining items I have at my disposal. At this point I have all the components listed above except for the gum and scarf that I used for the water.

The only easy way to gather food right now is by fishing; this means that making an artificial fishing rod is my top priority. First I will find a thick and long branch from the trees in the forest. This stick will be the handle of my fishing rod. Next I will rip out all the paper from my spiral note book and save it for later use. The wire from my notebook will be used as the string of my fishing rod. After straightening the wired as much as possible using a small rock, I will wrap the wire over the top of the branch. All that is missing is the bait for the fish. To do this I break my two pencils in half and strip the wood leaving only the lead. Now I have four pieces of lead that are about two inches each. Quickly, I find any small animal either from the land or stream as bait. Some examples are worms, mussels, and snails. After killing the bait I stick a piece of lead through it to keep it in place. Lastly, I just tie the piece of lead with the bait on it to the wire from my spiral notebook. The fishing rod is now complete.

The next thing to do is fish before nighttime to prevent me and my friend from starving. To make this easier and hopefully faster, I will build a dam structure composed of multiple medium size rocks to stop the flow of the stream and trap the incoming fish. I also have a back up of lead and bait just in case anything goes wrong.

If everything goes right and I catch the fish, the very last goal to complete is just cooking the food before going to bed. First I gather plenty of natural flammables which are the usual twigs, leaves, and grass. I surround the group of flammables with rocks to control the fire for safety. To ignite a spark I rub the nail file on a rock aiming at the circle. I also use my mirror to reflect as much of the sunlight left in the forest and rub a twig to create friction and warmth. I finally produce my flame and I’m able to cook the catch from earlier in the day. Along with my fish I also have the water that I purified to complete my goal and eat dinner for the night.



*This essay was written by a student as part of an annual contest to promote engineering concepts. It is not the work of an engineer or of an outdoor survivalist. The ideas included represent creativity and ingenuity; however, facts may not be accurate and the actions described may not be the most appropriate in an actual survival situation. Please see the contest announcement for more information.