A group of 41 schoolchildren from Beijing recently visited Nottingham as part of a summer project to find out about Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution.
On their tour, which was organised by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the children visited museums and sites of interest across the UK, including the Lake District, Isle of Skye, North Wales, as well as museums in Nottingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, London and Oxford.
The Cultural Visiting China initiative
The Darwin study tour was developed by Dr. Wang Qi, of The University of Nottingham, who established links with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Paleozoological Museum of China during the University’s ‘Cultural Visiting China’ mission to Beijing in 2014.
During their time in Nottingham, the children visited the Nottingham Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall, where they were given a special guided tour by the Curator of Natural Sciences – Dr Adam Smith.
One of the children, Carlos Wang, said: “This museum was quite different to others I have been to because it creates the real environment for each animal and insect. This means that we can more clearly see how each creature would actually live in its natural habitat, which helps us to understand more about the life of the animal.”
Investigating natural history specimens
The children spent the afternoon visiting the University’s Zoology collection in the School of Life Sciences where they were hosted by the MSc In Biological Photography and Imaging. There were a number of activities, led by Dr Tom Hartman and they were able to see and investigate some of the natural history specimen collections at the University and meet with leading academics in this field.
Mr Huwen Wang, Director of the Science Popularisation Department at the Beijing Association for Science and Technology, said: “We are very grateful to The University of Nottingham and Wollaton Hall for arranging this visit. The children have learnt a lot about evolution and they have really enjoyed their time in Nottingham. We hope to be back again next year with another group of students.”
The University and Nottingham City Council have also been in talks with the Chinese Academy of Science and the Paleozoological Museum of China to bring a major feathered dinosaur exhibition to Wollaton Hall in the future.
Dr Wang Qi said: “The University has built a very strong relationship with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and this is why I was very pleased to be able to work with them on the development of the Darwin study tour to the UK this week.
“We are also in discussions with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to bring an internationally significant exhibition of feathered dinosaur fossils to Nottingham in the future which we aim to display at Wollaton Hall. I also hope that the links we have established with CAS will enable schoolchildren, teachers, academics and students from Nottingham to travel to China in future to visit some of the country’s unique museums and historical sites, and to share research expertise.”
For more information about The University of Nottingham’s China Cultural Visiting Hub initiative, www.chinaculturalvisitinghub.ac.uk contact Sarah Kerr at the University.
For more information about the China Academy of Sciences, visit the website.
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