McClung Museum hosts Darwin Day birthday celebration, teaches kids about evolutionary science

Knoxville families were invited to McClung Museum on Saturday to learn more about evolutionary science and the work of Charles Darwin in honor of Darwin’s upcoming birthday.

Credit: Sophie Grosserode

Knoxville’s young and old alike were invited to McClung Museum on Saturday for the third annual Darwin Day celebration.

This event was the first of four for Darwin Day at UT. It was an early birthday party for Charles Darwin, who was born Feb. 12, 1809. The event was free and family-oriented, with cake, music and crafts for kids of all ages.

Jen Bauer, a graduate student in Earth and Planetary Sciences who volunteers with the museum, said Darwin’s birthday party is a great way to get kids thinking about science.

“We’re just interested in promoting evolutionary science in general and dispelling a lot of misinformation that’s out there. We just want kids to be excited about science and not be afraid to ask questions,” she said.

One activity that helped the kids start thinking about evolutionary science was at the crafts table, where they made their own phylogenetic trees. Phylogenetic trees are diagrams that show evolutionary relationships between different species. The kids could make them out of construction paper, popsicle sticks and string.

“They can pick the animals that they want to be on the tree, and think about how they’re related to one another and then take it home and hang it up,” Bauer said.

Other activities attendees could participate in were making buttons, completing a scavenger hunt through McClung Museum and taking pictures with the Charles Darwin puppet.

Isabella Armsworth, 6, liked the arts and crafts the best, while her sister Rose, 8, said sharing a birthday with Darwin and celebrating it there too was her favorite part. Louis Sincavage, 6, said his favorite part was the museum itself.

The party wasn’t just for kids, either. As senior community member Jack Slaughter said, “It’s something fun to do, to get away from the Super Bowl.”

Even Monty the Edmontosaurus, unofficial mascot of McClung Museum, joined in on the fun with a party hat of his own. Monty’s party hat was made for him by Lindsey Jo Wainwright, coordinator of Academic Programs at McClung Museum.

“It turns out you can’t buy dinosaur sized party hats,” Wainwright said.

The Darwin Day fun will continue next week with a parade and two lectures.

The Evolution and Science Parade will take place on Pedestrian Walkway at 12 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13. The Keynote speech will be delivered by Dr. Stacey D. Smith in AMB Cox Auditorium at 7 p.m. that evening. Smith will discuss this year’s theme, plant adaptation.

The final event will be a lecture by Darwin Day Tennessee Founder, Dr. Massimo Pigliucci at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Full details can be found here.

Featured Image by Sophie Grosserode

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

+ posts