In 2009, joining the celebrations of Charles Darwin’s Bicentanary, Rachel Cohen  developed a version of the Chinese Whispers drawing game that allows for evolution by natural selection.


darwinian big draw

Hundreds of children and adults took part in an informal one-day experiment at De la Warr Pavilion.

An initial population of 26 drawings  of a halogen lamp were made by a year 6 class at Pebsham School in Bexhill.  In fact they each made 3 drawings in different materials, pencil, crayon and chalk. The different materials created different ‘environmental’ conditions at 3 sites or ‘islands’ around the building. We wanted to see if the populations would evolve differently. Each participant was asked to copy their favourite drawing and eliminate the one they liked least. On crayon and chalk islands the surviving drawings were the boldest and simplest while pencil island favoured the more elaborate and detailed. Many of the participants did not know what the drawing represented.

The images below show the evolution of just 6 of the crayon drawings. These copies were made by participants at the de la Warr Pavilion and at Bexhill library in a separate experiment.

natural selection
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