•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

Online Game to Launch for Charles Darwin's 200th Birthday

An online computer game that mimics Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection will launch in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.

text size AAA
February 9, 2009 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- An online computer game that mimics Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection will officially launch Thursday, Feb. 12, at Northwestern University in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.

The 3 p.m. launch of the game, called "BugHunt," is but one way in which the University's "One Book One Northwestern" project and The Alumnae of Northwestern will commemorate Darwin's birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book "The Origin of Species."

The Darwin festivities also will include birthday cake served between 11:30 a.m. and noon outside the McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center; a 45-minute concert of "Music of Evolution" performed at noon by students from the Bienen School of Music in Norris' McCormick Auditorium; and a multi-media exhibit of Darwin-inspired art by Northwestern community members titled "Art of Evolution."

Darwin events are free and open to the public, and will take place in Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus.

BugHunt, which can be played simultaneously by multiple players, invites each player to act as a bird hunting for multicolored bugs that appear online in different environments. The player is challenged to find prey hidden in, for example, a field of poppies or at the seashore. Players compete against other gamers (who are identified as other birds).

BugHunt games run continuously and restart every three minutes. To play, visit http://ccl.northwestern.edu/simevolution/obonu/ and join the competition to become top bug hunter.

The game was developed by Uri Wilensky, director of Northwestern's Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL), and Michael Novak, a researcher at the center and public school teacher. It was first developed in 2005 as part of a larger CCL project on simulated evolution.

The "One Book" project sponsored a new version of the game to make it available for courses in which evolution is taught or in which evolutionary theory is a component. "BugHunt" is ultimately intended for use in schools and museums," said Wilensky, professor of learning sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy and of electrical engineering and computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Darwin first became the focus of activities around the University when, in August 2008, all incoming freshmen to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences were asked to read "The Reluctant Mr. Darwin" by David Quammen. Quammen recently came to Northwestern to lecture on Darwin's life and legacy.

For more than half a year, "One Book One Northwestern" has sponsored events, lectures, exhibits and films about Darwin, his theories and his widespread influence in and beyond science.

For further information about the Feb. 12 celebration, call (847) 467-1894 or visit http://www.northwestern.edu/onebook/. A link on that site also will take visitors to the BugHunt game.