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Mobius Science Center opens with street festival

Sun., Sept. 9, 2012

Mr. Green Jeans, an 11-foot-long, 7-year-old Burmese python, slithered down Main Avenue in Spokane on Saturday with a large group of children in tow.

He was one of the many attractions at the Mobius Grand Opening Street Festival. Mr. Green Jeans’ cohorts in the Creature Feature, provided by Rasmussen Reptiles, included a tortoise, a large lizard, a chameleon and a hedgehog.

Cooper Wharton, 9, said his favorite part of the festival was “probably the python.”

“He’s just so big,” he said. “And I really like reptiles.”

His 7-year-old brother, Jake, agreed the snake was “awesome.”

The festival also included chemistry demonstrations, robots, face painting and tours of the new Mobius Science Center and its dozens of exhibits, as well as a grand reopening of Mobius Kids in River Park Square. At one booth, kids learned about chemistry by combining two liquids to make a putty-like polymer they got to take home with them.

“Most kids are hands-on learners,” said Mobius educator Joelene Brabazon. “It’s how they process information. Plus, it’s a whole lot more fun.”

The new science center is meant to be fun, but it’s also meant to spark imagination and innovation. It’s meant to inspire a future generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and math as the world shifts to a knowledge-based economy and large numbers of people in those fields begin to retire.

“We are in a Sputnik moment,” former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar said in the grand opening ceremony, referring to the 1957 Soviet-launched satellite that amounted to a wake-up call for Americans to step up science education. “We need to make a difference now.”

Again, she said, we’re lagging in those fields behind countries such as China, India and Russia, and economic and scientific advancement in the U.S. are suffering as a result.

Barbara Anderson, mother of Michael Anderson, an astronaut from the Spokane area who was killed in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, cut the ribbon at the science center. Spokane Mayor David Condon and Greater Spokane Incorporated President and CEO Rich Hadley also spoke at the ceremony.

“Today is a big day,” Mobius CEO Chris Majer said of the culmination of the effort to open the 27,000 square-foot science center. “Today we’ve been working at for over a decade.”

Dunbar said the new science center is more than just a facility.

“It’s a symbol,” she said. “It’s an investment in our future.”

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