The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education demonstrates solar scopes to children during the 2016 Moab Festival of Science. This year’s four-day festival will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 28, with a free 6 p.m. lecture at the Moab Information Center. [Photo courtesy of the Moab Festival of Science]

What’s red and orange and home to some of the most unique and spectacular archaeological, geological, paleontological and ecological sites known to man? Why, Moab, of course!

This weekend, you will get the chance to see Grand County through new eyes during the Moab Festival of Science.

Festival organizer Sasha Reed is excited about this four-day event.

“We have so much exceptional science happening on the Colorado Plateau,” Reed said. “This event was put together to give a wide range of opportunities for our community to access science.”

In a world of uncertainty, science can shed light on problems and create solutions.

“Science is a way that our species has developed to ask questions in hopes of getting answers we can make use of,” she said.

The Moab Festival of Science will kick off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Moab Information Center with a lecture about the archaeology of the La Sal Mountains given by U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Charmaine Thompson.

The event’s lineup includes many talks and events in between. The final event will be held on Sunday, Oct. 1, with the Mill Creek Native Plant and Biological Soil Crust Walk. The keynote speaker, Dr. Jayne Belnap, is a world-renowned scientist who worked in Moab for 35 years.

“She has changed the face of biological soil crust research,” Reed said. Biological soil crusts are fragile communities of living organisms that play a vital part in stabilizing the soils of our desert landscapes.

Organizers said that the Moab Festival of Science would not be possible without partnerships with federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and educators from around the country. This year’s festival will be similar to last year’s event, which was the first of its kind.

“All of our speakers are new speakers and there are no repeated presentations,” Reed said.

Several events will be offered again to visitors, including the Star Party, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bar M Parking area off U.S. Highway 191, about 9 miles north of downtown Moab.

Another activity you can participate in if you missed it last year will be the “hottest” event of the festival, a tour of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project (UMTRA). Guests will meet on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Lions Park Transit Hub. All events during the festival are free, but the UMTRA tour requires a reservation ticket, which can be picked up from the Moab Information Center or the Grand County Public Library.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, the kids will have a blast during the “STEMonstrations” at Swanny City Park. These hands-on activities will include “big explosions and lots of cool things,” Reed said, and will be fun for all, from toddlers to grandparents.

“There will also be events at Rotary Park on Saturday afternoon where visitors will have a chance to see fish and aquatic invertebrates,” she said. “There is a stream that runs through the park where we will look at different organisms and make T-shirts with dead fish.”

One of the STEMonstrators, Dr. Mark Grover, is the conservation and service director for the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education.

Grover said the event involves several stations set up by local scientists, educators and naturalists that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM education has seen more exposure in recent years, as schools have offered more opportunities for children to be involved with these areas of learning.

“STEM skills are critical to addressing the challenges and opportunities that society must deal with to create a sustainable future,” Grover said.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the vast array of science you can find in Moab. The geology, paleontology, archaeology, ecology and biology found in this region are unlike those in any other place in the world.

Event has a host of science-related fun and learning activities from Sept. 28-Oct. 1

What: Moab Festival of Science

When: Thursday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 1

Where: Various locations in the Moab area

Cost: All events are free; UMTRA site tour requires free tickets, which are available at the Grand County Public Library and the Moab Information Center


We have so much exceptional science happening on the Colorado Plateau.