Storm Peak holding open house

Free event this weekend at Steamboat Ski Area with games, food

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Gannet Hallar and Ian McCubbin prepare to leave the Storm Peak Laboratory after a day of work. Scientists at the lab atop the Steamboat Ski Area are hosting a free open house today and Sunday.

— It may not be behind a cast iron fence and accessible only with a golden ticket, but the Storm Peak Laboratory is the real-life equivalent of Willy Wonka's mythical chocolate factory.

Few people are ever seen going in or coming out of the lab, but increasing public outreach has been a mission of new director Gannet Hallar and partner Ian McCubbin. From 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday, the Storm Peak Laboratory is holding a free open house.

The lab is accessed off the Morningside ski lift at the Steamboat Ski Area, and golden tickets are not required for admission.

"I want to make sure the public is aware of what it is we are doing," Hallar said. "We've been trying to have programs for students to come up to the lab, but we can't possibly get all students up to the lab, so this is an opportunity for people to bring their families up."

Hallar, McCubbin and other volunteers will conduct tours of the lab to give people a chance to see the equipment and learn more about the research that takes place there.

Former lab director Randy Borys also held annual open houses, and it was a tradition Hallar wanted to continue.

"We'll show them equipment and talk a little about the science and what it's like to live at the lab," Hallar said.

The lab has equipment inside the building and erected on the deck overlooking the Yampa Valley, giving the research scientists access to amazing views and amazing experimental opportunities.

Hallar said she wants the open house to be a chance to dispel myths that the lab is solely for monitoring weather conditions.

Food will be served, and science-themed games will be offered for children.

"We want to make it more interactive for kids," Hallar said.

- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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