Florida (2013)

In March 2013, the Darwin Day Roadshow traveled south to the Sunshine State. The team, which hailed from the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, N.C., included Assistant Director of Science Craig McClain, Sabbatical Scholar and Monash University professor Martin Burd and postdoctoral fellow Josh Martin.

They were hosted by upper school science teacher Richard Huey at the Pine School in Hobe Sound. In addition to discussing Charles Darwin and his enduring legacy, Craig, Martin and Josh each gave brief presentations with topics ranging from general evolution to deep sea marine biology. That evening, the trio also held a lecture for local science educators, in which they discussed techniques for teaching evolutionary science in the classroom and beyond.

Craig McClain discusses marine biology at The Pine School

Craig McClain discusses marine biology at The Pine School

The next day, the team went to Northeast High School in Oakland Park. In addition to sharing their presentations with several classes, Craig, Martin and Josh were also able to discuss at length what it’s like being a scientist. Curious students asked about everything from getting a job and collaborating with colleagues to the day-to-day work and responsibilities. “I think we certainly accomplished two things,” Martin Burd said. “For students already interested in science as a career, we could give them ‘front line’ advice on how to get into the trade, and for all students, we [showed] them that scientists are not impossibly remote and incomprehensible.”

Teacher and host Randa Flinn planned this visit to coincide with the first-ever Ideas Festival, which was a community science and technology fair run by Northeast’s students and teachers. Science projects and posters helped spark discussion and demonstrate the students’ abilities. “I cannot tell you the incredible, positive feedback I got from the students, teachers and the community,” Randa Flinn said.

“Our Ideas Festival and Darwin Day Road Show were big hits, and I have a massive numbers of students wanting to get in on the act for next year! I applaud NESCent for this great program that brings high level science to the students and inspires them to consider science or biology for their futures.”