Through Feb. 25, McClung Museum will be celebrating the 208th birthday of the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, born Feb. 12, 1809.

On Sunday, Feb. 6, the museum hosted a birthday party for Darwin with crafts, party hats and birthday cake. The museum attracted 140 guests in the first hour, most of them young families and graduate students, Lindsey Jo Wainwright, the museum’s coordinator of academic programs, said.

“The idea is just to celebrate and have fun,” Jen Bauer, a Ph.D. candidate researching paleontology, said.

The party was held in the museum’s entrance hall where guests could take pictures with a Charles Darwin mascot and make buttons in the decorative experience exhibit. Guests were given handouts, such as an interactive scavenger hunt of the museum’s exhibits, information on the misconceptions of evolution and fliers for upcoming events.

The party's activities were largely targeted towards children, but the staff also saw the event as a way to bring families into the museum to better understand evolution and its importance.

“I’m not sure how much (understanding of evolution) these young children will go away with, but it certainly provides an opportunity for their parents to become involved (and) see what’s here at the museum,” Jeff Chapman, museum director, said.

Throughout the week, Darwin Day festivities will continue on Pedestrian Walkway, where students can learn about upcoming events and meet Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in mascot form. Darwin Day organizers will also be advertising for the event’s Keynote Speaker Stacey Smith from the University of Colorado Boulder.

On Monday, Feb. 13, at noon, Darwin Day organizers will participate in a science parade that marches from the Hill to inform students about Darwin, Wallace and their work involving evolutionary biology.

Later that day at 7 p.m. in the Cox Auditorium, Smith will present her lecture “Beg, borrow and steal: the nefarious history of flower power” to discuss the adaptive evolution of plants over time.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, a teacher’s workshop will be held in room 105 of the Claxton Education Complex from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

All of the events are volunteer-run and designed to educate the public on evolutionary biology and its importance in modern society and politics. The idea is to promote scientific thought in a non-confrontational way in order to combat anti-science movements.

“(The events are being put on) to recognize this very important historical figure who has done so much to the understanding of biology, and of course, it drives so much of natural selection, and likewise, drives what has happened and what is happening in the world today,” Chapman said.

This story has been modified from its original version, published on Monday, Feb. 6. The original version stated that there would be a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at NIMBioS by Massimo Pigliucci. It has been changed to remove the mention of that event as it is now cancelled. 

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