University of Wisconsin students and community members will be able to deepen their understanding of evolution during a series of upcoming events held at the university in honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday.
Darwin Day features a host of activities, including a teacher workshop, a movie screening and several speaker events, designed to share knowledge about evolution, according to a UW statement. The J. F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution organized the weekend long event, beginning Thursday, Feb. 14, the statement said.
The tradition began when a group of biologists at UW decided it was important to share knowledge of evolutionary biology with the public, according to David Baum, a professor in the botany department. The biologists picked Charles Darwin’s birthday because they thought it would be the ideal time to share their excitement for evolutionary biology, he said.
Each year, the events of Darwin Day take a theme, and this year the theme is sex and reproduction in the natural world, according to Baum.
“[The theme] is something UW students might find interesting,” he said.
Baum explained the first Darwin Day event consisted of a day of lectures from UW faculty. He added while the event was a success in terms of turnout, it was a challenge for people to sit through six back-to-back lectures.
Starting three years ago, the institute established the current format of a three-day festival featuring a movie night and three lectures by science communicators from UW.
“The format did not really accommodate families with children,” Baum said. “We began having fewer lectures, but adding in more and more family-friendly activities.”
Baum said this year, the institute tried to make the event more inclusive of other members of the community. It now features a workshop for local teachers as well as four hours of interactive exhibits for families, he added.
According to Baum, this year students can look forward to hearing great talks from people in the evolutionary biology field and learning a lot of interesting information about reproduction in nature.
“It is important to take any opportunity to highlight the wonderful diversity of life forms on the planet and how evolutionary biology helps us make sense of this diversity – and our place in it,” Baum said.