Share it! Science : Celebrate Darwin Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Celebrate Darwin Day!

charles darwin birthday
February 12th is Charles Darwin's birthday, now known as "Darwin Day". This is a great opportunity to thank Darwin for his contributions to science and learn through some great adaptation and natural selection activities. Who knows, you might even want to throw a Darwin Day party!

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Charles Darwin is known for summing up evidence for the theory of evolution and developing the theory of natural selection through his travels on the HMS Beagle. His book, On the Origin of Species, shaped modern biology and evolutionary theory. Some of Darwin's most interesting work, and what I believe to be the best introduction point for children, was on the diversity of species, particularly the adaptations of island finches. 

Voyage of the HMS Beagle
Voyage of the HMS Beagle.

© SĂ©mhur / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

Darwin observed the finches on the Galapagos islands and found that their beaks varied due to the different types of food and environments on each island. Variation is not only seen in bird beaks around the world, but across bird species. A wonderful hands-on way to engage students in the idea of adaptation is to have them model how these various bird beaks work.
Darwin's Finches
Darwin's Finches. By John Gould (14.Sep.1804 - 3.Feb.1881) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There are many activities where this is explored. In general, the idea is that you provide your class with various items that will serve as "beaks", straws, nutcracker, ladle, chopsticks, etc. The students try to forage for food items with these different beaks. You may provide things like gummy worms in soil, goldfish in water, sunflower seeds to crack, etc. You can get creative with this, keeping in mind you want to model something fairly realistic to nature. Many of the items you use can easily be found around the house.

The following lesson plans outline similar activities:
For more excellent lesson plans and activity ideas for Darwin Day, check out these links:
Wouldn't it be fun to throw a Darwin party after you explore adaptation science? Here are just a few fun ideas for you!

Are you celebrating Charles Darwin Day? We'd love to hear all about it! Comment below or connect with us on social media, links available at the top of the page.


  1. great post - thanks for the reminder and the links. Happy Darwin Day.

    1. Thanks Sue! I loved the chickadee photo on your "Wild Outdoors Wednesday" post today! Thanks for reading!