Students from several local junior high and high schools waited outside the University Student Union theater to engage in a series of activities focused on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Northridge Academy High School, Alva Vista, Vista, Sepulveda and Pacoima Middle School were all in attendance with approximately 150 students.
‘I wanted them to get a good experience with science at the university level,’ said Angelica Muratella, a teacher at Sepulveda Middle School.
I take a performance development course here at CSUN on the weekends and my professor told me about the event and invited us to come, she said.
‘My school said it was extra credit and it seemed like fun so I came,’ said Courtney Beckford, sophmore at Northridge Academy High School.
There are about three or four rooms the students will go to and each room has a different activity that focuses on Darwin’s theory of evolution, said Roderick Bravo a junior in the liberal studies Integrated Teacher Education Program and a coordinator of the event.
One of the rooms focuses on adaptation and natural selection. The activities in this room were conducted by CSUN biology graduate students, Jen Paur and Christopher Bowman-Prideaux.
Paur instructed three tables which had one or two stations that revolved around Darwin’s Finches. The students participated in what ended up being a competition to determine which student was given the necessary tools to survive.
‘The process of evolution is that the better adapted out-competes the poorly-adapted and eliminates them. Evolution is a process of elimination of poorly adapted tools,’ said Paur biology graduate student.
The students at Paur’s table were given tools such as chopsticks, tongs and an envelope to try to scoop up the most popcorn in a certain amount of time. The objective was to express to students that in evolution you have to compete with the tools you are given and that is it.
‘It’s not a choice. You starve to death if you don’t have the better tool,’ said Paur.
Bowman-Prideaux’s tables focused on a different topic, Cryptic Coloration (camouflage).
At this table the students would place colored dots onto colored fabrics with the dots representing the pray species. Another student would randomly select a few colored dots from the fabrics. The idea is that the student will select the dots by the colors that are clearly seen by the eyes. The colors that blend in or camouflage with the colored fabric they were placed on would be left behind. This is an example of how animals are selected via predatation.
‘Students will get a better understanding of natural selection. It is not a choice, it is a process. Whatever does not work in the ecosystem is eliminated. Life is about reproduction,’ said Bowman-Prideaux. Other rooms included activities that explained footprint relationships and making fossils.
Several programs will be taking place this week in honor of Charles Darwin. A schedule of events can be found online at www.csun.edu/darwin.