How to celebrate "Darwin Day" in rural America? Very carefully, the New York Times reports: When evolutionary biologists set out on a road trip this weekend to Virginia, Nebraska, Montana, and Iowa to promote science in honor of Charles Darwin's 202nd birthday, one high school principal made sure to send out permission slips (two parents opted out). A museum vice president only publicized the event to teachers, not the community at large. Even so, the intended audience—students—seemed to deem the events a success: One 10th-grader blogged that the scientists "told it like it is."
The road trip was instigated by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center after an education director noted that Darwin Day is usually commemorated only in places like museums or biology departments. Nineteen schools agreed to act as hosts, after scientists assured sometimes nervous principals that they simply wanted to tell kids why science is "cool." Among issues explained: Why, as one student asked, "did Darwin say that humans evolved from monkeys?" A scientist answered that he didn't say that; he just said that the two share a common ancestor.