Students win once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos Islands

The Wellcome Trust’s Survival Rivals competition sends a group of UK students to the Galapagos Islands.

Jessica Woodfield, Charlotte Woodfield, Becky Hill and Eleri Morgan from St Cyres School in Penarth, Wales won the chance to retrace the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The group, together with their teacher, will depart for their two-week trip on 16 October accompanied by creative practitioner Dr Karen James, a postdoctoral scientist at the Natural History Museum. Under her guidance, the students will record their observations, thoughts, speculations and photographs from the trip with blog posts and Twitter, so that the world can follow their enviable journey online. This will provide source material for an e-book to be written and published approximately six months after the trip.

About Survival Rivals

As part of celebrations for Darwin 200, the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth in 1809, the Wellcome Trust distributed Survival Rivals experiment kits inspired by Darwin’s ideas, free of charge, to state secondary schools across the UK. Entrants to the competition were invited to submit short films and photographs to communicate the science behind these experiments in an engaging and imaginative way.

Three kits were available, targeted at different ages, each exploring different themes of natural selection and the theory of evolution. ‘I’m a Worm, Get Me Out Of Here!’ looked at the effects of environmental adaptation on survival and evolution, while ‘Brine Date’ focused on how sexual selection influences which genes are passed down to the next generation.

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About the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean are well known for having provided the inspiration for the revolutionary ideas and hypotheses of Charles Darwin. He travelled there on board the HMS Beagle as part of a survey expedition in 1835. Through close study of the islands’ plants, animals, birds and reptiles, he proposed that many of them had developed from common ancestors and adapted to their environment over millions of years.

These ideas formed the basis of his book – ‘On the Origin of the Species’ – in which he set out his theory of evolution by natural selection. The book, which was highly controversial at the time, revolutionised the way we view ourselves and Darwin himself went on to become one of the most influential scientists of all time.