According to a statement from the festival committee, a variety of free events will showcase the wonders and value of science with a focus on the Colorado Plateau. “The goal of the event is to connect and inspire citizens and visitors to southeastern Utah with the joy of science, the societal importance of regional research, and the thrill of scientific discovery,” organizers said.
The festival will kick off with a few evening events, and the number of activities will increase throughout the weekend. At 6 p.m. Oct. 3, the Grand County Library will feature the film, “Into the Inferno” – a timely film about humans’ relationship with one of nature’s most violent wonders – volcanoes.
The following evening at 6 p.m. at the Moab Information Center, Dr. Jody Patterson will give a lecture on a public archaeology project in Nine Mile Canyon. The project included a team of 72 volunteers working beside archaeologists from the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona State University, Montgomery Archaeological Consultants, Utah State University and the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance. The team excavated over half of a large pit structure.
On Friday, Oct. 5, one of the most popular activities and an event unique to the Festival of Science will be a guided tour of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action site, a U.S. Department of Energy cleanup of the former Atlas Mine site. Participants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. Because space is limited on the UMTRA tours, tickets are required and are available at the Moab Information Center and the Grand County Library. Tickets are free. Organizers caution that this may be the last year the festival will be able to host the UMTRA tour.
At 5 p.m. Oct. 5, before the keynote presentation, refreshments will be served on the Museum of Moab lawn, where local scientists will be available for discussions. Participants will be able to ask educators, geologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, biologists and astronomers about the ins and outs of the work they do.
Nicole Walker will present the keynote address at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Star Hall. Walker is a well-known writer and professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She will discuss her book, “Sustainability: A Love Story” that was released in August. She is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a notable essayist in Best American, as well as a nonfiction winner of the Best of the Net. In her talk, “Braiding a Broken World,” Walker will explore how the natural world shapes the way people tell their personal story, how metaphors taken from images in the natural world help promote self-understanding, and how the work to write and revise those stories teaches people to revere and repair the natural world. Walker will speak to how nonfiction writing offers a way to re-see and revise the relationship to the planet and its human inhabitants. Festival activities will resume at 9 a.m. Oct. 6 with a geology walk led by National Park Service interpretive ranger Will Leggett.
Leggett and a group of up to 20 participants will hike along Moab’s Old Mail Trail above Mill Creek to discuss how geologic forces forged Moab’s unique landscape. Tickets which are free are required for that event; participants will park at Powerhouse Lane. An activity called “STEMonstrations” will include kid-focused science activities at 11 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Sun Court and City Gym. Attendees will find inflatable planetariums, sediment tables, and learn about what is living in those rare desert potholes.
At 5 p.m. a “fascinating eco-friendly, entrepreneurial adventure” will take place at Star Hall, where James Rolin of Cowboy Cricket Farms will explain why people should care about entomophagy.
A telescope star party will take place from 7:30-10 pm. at the Brand Trails parking area off of Highway191. Star-loving experts from the National Park Service and Utah State Parks will use their telescopes to highlight some of the wonders of viewing the night sky from southeastern Utah. Because the number of telescopes available for the Star Party is limited, free tickets are needed and are available at the Moab Information Center and the Grand County Public Library.
Sunday, Oct. 7 will be the final day of the festival. Participants can learn about plants and biological soil crusts along the Hidden Valley Trail with U.S. Geological Survey biologists, learn about dinosaurs at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur track site with a BLM paleontologist, take a cultural landscape tour with a NPS archaeologist, and learn about saving injured birds via Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.moab-scifest.org, facebook.com/moab.scifest/, or contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.