The Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island has celebrated Darwin Day for several years.
Last year’s Darwin Day/Stand Up For Science Day was our best yet. Dr. Victor Schuster gave a wonderful demonstration of the scientific method during his platform talk.
He posed a situation that also included an ethical problem and he elicited audience participation in solving the dilemma. During his entire presentation, Dr. Schuster reminded us how we were playing the scientific method; problem, hypothesis, test for consistency and resolution. We enjoyed his presentation so much, that we have invited him back to join us next year, when Darwin Day falls on a Sunday, our regularly scheduled platform day.
What makes our celebration unique is that is annually conducted as an intergenerational event sponsored by our Sunday morning secular children’s program called “Kids In Deed (KID)” at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. (www.ehsli.org) Everyone enjoyed participating and watching other members with our hands- on activities. One member is a biology professor and parent of children in our children’s program. She came up with activities that included dissecting owl pellets to identify what owls eat, extracting DNA from Strawberries and “Predator/Prey B-I-N-G-O.” Young and old stayed engaged and full of wonderful during these “hands-on “experiences.”
Since I am a long-term public school teacher for elementary grades, my challenge was finding an activity that is appropriate and fun for this age group. I found the “Survival of the Fittest” game on the web, written as a high school exploration, that I rewrote for children ages 5 to 13. It is interesting to see how species have formed due to their ability to evolve as their need to find food changes.
This year, our fourth Darwin Day/Stand Up for Science Festival is on Darwin’s real birthdate: Feb. 12. The day begins at 11 a.m. and goes until about 2 p.m. Not only will we have the return of Dr. Victor Schuster and his intergenerational demonstration of the scientific method, we have added the East Meadow Library’s popular attraction, the Amateur Observors’ Society (www.aosny.org) to create two “hands on” presentations called: "Astronomy and the Night Sky" "Meteorite / Meteor Wrong - How Do You Know that a Rock is a Meteorite?"
Children are naturally inquisitive by nature so science lends itself to a lot of hands on learning for children of all ages. Parents feel comfortable allowing their children to participate in these activities because it increases their academic skills and involvement in a variety of ways. However, most importantly, it is FUN for all involved. I hope that many of you may consider visiting our ethical society on this wonderful day.