General
08 Apr 2009

Follow in Darwin’s footsteps with special events at the Home of Charles Darwin, Down House

Two special family events run by The Open University in partnership with English Heritage, celebrating the Darwin bi-centenary year, will be giving people the chance to tread in the footsteps of Charles Darwin by doing hands-on science experiments at Down House, his Kent family home.

Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 April – Evolution Megalab Banded Snail hunt
Did you know that thanks to a common little snail, you can see evolution in action? The Evolution MegaLab banded snail hunt will be coming to Down House in April, giving people the chance to contribute to a huge public science research project. The MegaLab project, run by The Open University, is investigating how snails have evolved over the past 40 years, comparing data supplied by members of the public with a database of historical records.

Scientists believe that climate change and predators may have caused the banded snail population to shift habitat and even change their appearance – and now they need the public to survey snails and help them collect data. For more information, go to www.evolutionmegalab.org.

The snail hunts will take place from 12noon – 2pm and from 3pm – 5pm on both days.

Dr Carlton Wood, Science Staff Tutor for The Open University, said: “These events are a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to do their own evolutionary experiments and surveys in Darwin’s own garden, the very place where this extraordinary scientist carried out his research and developed his ideas.”

Sunday 26 April – Carnivorous plants: little pots of horror
Darwin was fascinated by carnivorous plants and this ‘Little Pots of Horror’ event will be showing the different ways in which carnivorous plant species have evolved. As well as being able to see “flesh eating” plants, including the Venus Fly Trap and the beautiful Sundews, in the flesh you’ll also find out more about how they are able to attract, trap and digest their food in this informative illustrated talk.

Dr Wood continued: “The Little Pots of horror event will be a fascinating insight into the mysterious world where plants consume animals…an area that Darwin was the first to investigate.” The ‘Little Pots of Horror’ talk will run for an hour at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

There will be information at both events about related Open University courses, for anyone who wishes to pursue further learning. The OU has launched a short course on Darwin especially for the bi-centenary year, called Darwin and Evolution (S170).

Both events are included in the admission price to Down House; but due to limited availability places must be booked in advance on 0870 333 1181. When calling please state the event, date and time that you wish to book.

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