Visitors recently had the opportunity to take a leisurely stroll through time during an event at Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Dubbed the “Billion Year Walk,” the experience provided families with a simulated journey spanning the history of evolution.
Kids and their parents were invited to walk the 3.1 perimeter of the lake and stop at the 42 information stations marking advancement in earth’s development at an event hosted by the Bay Area Skeptics.
The walk started at the Rotary Center at 600 Bellevue Ave., where participants passed through a “time machine” featuring a fog machine and neon laser lights.
Children were given a booklet with questions to fill out over the course of their walk. When they circled back to the center with the correct answers, they received a dinosaur toy.
A pair waiting for the rest of their entourage to arrive said that their group had put the choice of that day’s activity to a vote. “This beat the circus,” said 66-year-old Christine Werme.
The first Billion Year Walk took place in 2014, and was repeated in 2016, according to event organizer David Almandsmith.
The National Center for Science Education years ago decided to sponsor educational events that promoted an alternative narrative to creationism, said Almandsmith.
The movement didn’t take off elsewhere in the county, but even though not many people dispute evolution in the Bay Area, the first walk was so much fun that the Skeptics wanted to keep doing it, Almandsmith said.
“Kids hated it at first, because they had to stand around when their parents would stop and read the signs,” said Almandsmith. “So, we discovered in 2016 that if you attach a stamp to each station, kids have fun. And they get to decorate their parents with stamps.”
When asked if he was enjoying his journey through time, a 9-year-old boy said, “Yeah it’s fun. It’s super long, though.”