University of Pennsylvania Museum Offers Second Annual Free Darwin Day and Evolution Teach-in

Museum Part of International “Darwin Day” Birthday Celebration Activities Leading Up to 200th Anniversary of the Evolution Theorist’s Birth in 2009

09 FEBRUARY 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Sunday, 10 February 2008, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers it’s second annual Darwin Day and Evolution Teach In, a free event held in honor of the 199th birthday of Charles Robert Darwin, the world-renowned author of On the Origin of Species—and the originator of the modern theory of evolution.

The free day features short “teach in” talks in galleries by renowned experts, a “sneak preview” of Penn Museum’s upcoming exhibition, “Surviving, The Body of Evidence,” and a physical anthropologist’s corner with plaster casts of hominid skulls and other bones. WHYY TV co-sponsors two showings of a recent NOVA documentary, and the Academy of Natural Sciences joins in with show and tell of memorabilia related to Darwin’s membership at that esteemed institution. An ongoing children’s workshop, a scavenger hunt, free birthday cake and the opportunity to play some badminton, reputedly a favorite game of Darwin’s, are also part of the afternoon. Darwin himself (or a reasonable likeness) promises to make an appearance to enjoy the festivities, delivering short, impromptu readings of excerpts from his many writings.

“Darwin’s theory of evolution has dramatically changed the way people study and think about our world,” said Dr Richard Hodges, the Williams Director of Penn Museum. “Penn Museum is delighted, once again, to offer up this free, fun and educational event, joining in spirit with an international chorus of classroom teachers, museums, universities and other organizations celebrating the life and achievements of Charles Darwin, whose official birthday is February 12th.”

University of Pennsylvania faculty and alumni from several disciplines are participating in the teach-in, offering attendees a variety of perspectives on the study of evolution and human origins. Dr. Michael Weisberg, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Penn Museum’s Evolution Project, provides introductions to the speakers. The following experts offer short lectures:

• Dr. Louise Krasniewicz, Senior Research Scientist, American Section, Penn Museum:
“Whose Creation Is This? Origin Myths from Around the World” (1:15 p.m.)

• Dr. John Tresch, Assistant Professor, History and Sociology of Science:
"Darwin's Story"

• Dr. Michael Weisberg, Assistant Professor of Philosophy:
"Evolution and the Environment"

• Eric Rothschild and Steve Harvey, Partners, Pepper Hamilton LLP. Mr. Rothschild is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Mr. Rothschild and Mr. Harvey were co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the landmark "intelligent design" case:
“Evolution in the Courts: The Story in 2008” (3:30 p.m.)

Darwin Day visitors are invited to a “sneak preview” of Penn Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Surviving, the Body of Evidence, opening April 19, 2008. Developed with a major grant from the National Science Foundation, Surviving will take the visitor on a journey of discovery to find out how the process of evolution and its outcomes have had a profound impact on human life today. Dr. Janet Monge, Keeper of the Museum’s Physical Anthropology section and co-curator of the new exhibition, offers a presentation of some of the special video and interactive features employed to draw the visitor into the experience.

The Museum is home to the world’s largest repository of high-quality casts of hominid fossils, which provide an important teaching tool for educators at Penn and around the world. The event features a special Physical Anthropology corner with hands-on examples of important fossil casts of hominids from three million years ago to 100,000 years ago. Visitors can handle the casts and learn about some of the ways that physical anthropologists study the evidence for evolutionary change over time.

WHYY TV sponsors two showings of the recent NOVA documentary, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial in the Museum’s Rainey Auditorium at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. Judgment Day details the events leading up to and concluding with the landmark case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Eric Rothschild, a partner with Pepper Hamilton LLP and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Steve Harvey, also a partner with Pepper Hamilton, were co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, which was decided in the plaintiff’s favor in December 2005, and an actor portrays them in some courtroom reconstructions. The case has been referred to as a modern-day “Monkey Trial,” alluding to the famous State v. John Scopes trial of 1925, when a jury was asked to decide the fate of a high school biology teacher charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution.

The publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species or The Descent of Man revolutionized scientific thinking on evolution. Visitors have an opportunity to hear excerpts of these books and other Darwin writings, as read by Charles Darwin (or a reasonable likeness) himself. On the Origin of Species, and other books by and about Darwin and evolution will be on sale—(and 10% off)—in the Museum Shop for the day. Visitors who join the Museum at Darwin Day will receive a FREE copy of On the Origin of Species.

Children and families can discover more about evolution with a hands-on, large-scale "Tree of Life" mural project. To provide a wider perspective on the many ways that we humans have understood our beginnings, visitors of all ages can follow a specially designed “Origins” scavenger hunt through several galleries featuring cultural materials from around the world.

A supreme Naturalist, Darwin was especially intrigued by the unique life forms that developed in relative isolation on the Galapagos Islands. Local artist Emmy Krick, visiting Galapagos with books about Darwin’s journey tucked in her pocket, became enamoured of the “little monsters” of the islands, the Galapagos Marine Iguanas, and she shares originals monoprints, and information, at the event. The Academy of Natural Sciences adds to a general appreciation of the life and work of its most famous member, with books, letters and other items that were part of Darwin’s daily routine.

To make the celebration complete, there will be a birthday cake for Darwin, with free pieces for everyone—including Charles Darwin himself—while they last. Darwin enjoyed taking a break from his work on occasion, and badminton was a game of choice. Visitors can take a lecture-break at the badminton set up in the Children’s Lunchroom.

The Museum Café serves up a (non-alcoholic) “Darwin Punch” and offers a Galapagos 2008 lunch menu for the afternoon.

Penn Museum’s Darwin Day and Evolution Teach In is coordinated by Dr. Michael Weisberg, chair of the Museum’s Evolution Project.

A growing list of other Darwin Day events held at other museums and educational institutions nationally is available online at http://www.darwinday.org

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.is $8 for adults; $5 for senior citizens and students with ID; free to members, PENNcard holders, and children 6 and under. http://penn.museum. For general information call (215) 898-4000.

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