Discovering Darwin at Duthie Park

Hundreds of children are expected to flock to Duthie Park this week for fun-filled sessions organised by the University of Aberdeen's Natural History Centre.

Free activities will be centred around the work of the great 19th century scientist Charles Darwin, but they have been carefully planned to appeal to the youth of the 21st century.

The theme this week will be Darwin's Great Discoveries and will form part of the University's celebrations of the 200th year of his birth.

Children of all ages can get involved with hands-on activities, finding out about some of the amazing plants and animals that interested Darwin, what he discovered and where he travelled.  

Using the fantastic glasshouses, youngsters can explore plant life in the surroundings of Duthie Park's beautiful Winter Gardens and can plant Nasturtiums - a climber that Darwin studied. They can also have fun creating crafty creatures.

On Monday and Tuesday children will have the chance to look at the animal which first awakened Darwin to the idea of evolution – the pigeon.

But they will be no ordinary birds as Ian McKay, president of the Aberdeen Federation of Racing Pigeons and owner of the Kingslea 1 Loft Race, will bring along his champion racing pigeons. He will explain their care, training and the rules of racing.

On Wednesday, Scottish story teller Pauline Cordiner will recount Darwin's adventures – his travel and discovery and some of the animals and people he encountered on his journey. 

Thursday will see Satrosphere present kitchen chemistry and on Friday Sheila Wiseman will be taking a closer look at earthworms and the fantastic job they do for our plants  – Darwin considered that earthworms were the most important animal on our planet!    

There will also be a giant poster display in the Foyer of the Winter Gardens made up of the artistic work of almost 700 secondary school students who entered the centre's 'Location, Relocation' competition, which asked them to consider how animals could adapt to different environments.

Marie Fish, Education Officer at the Natural History Centre, said: "There will be plenty for families with young children to do but we have such a range of activities on offer, older children will also enjoy the sessions.

"They are all about having fun while learning at the same time.

"There were so many things that interested Darwin that there really will be something for everyone."

The fun will continue for a total of three weeks with a host of other activities planned.