The outdoor climbing wall allows people to investigate the Earth's history the way a geologist or paleontologist would, according to ScienceWorks officials.

ScienceWorks today will mark the grand opening of a new exhibit, "The Geologic Climb Through Time," an outdoor climbing wall that mixes history education with physical activity.

The wall will be dedicated at 5 p.m. at the museum, 1500 E. Main St.

The exhibit was conceived and designed by Len Eisenberg, a local Earth history and geology teacher who also built the Briscoe Geology Park.

The wall allows people to investigate the Earth's history the way a geologist or paleontologist would, according to ScienceWorks officials. Visitors can scramble over a variety of rock layers, looking for fossils and noting how the types of rocks and fossils change through time. The rock layers are slanted, so climbers move laterally, not vertically, across the face of the wall, and are never more than a few feet off the ground.

Climbers will find passages harder to navigate as they pass through the geological stages of Earth's history, reminding them that it hasn't always been easy for species to make it, according to ScienceWorks Executive Director Mark DiRienzo.

"The Geologic Climb Through Time" was built in Bend by Entre Prises, a company that specializes in climbing walls and has constructed walls for museums and commercial ventures, including all the climbing walls in REI camping stores.

Building the wall involved creating layers of climbing surface that were the appropriate thickness for each geologic period, in the correct order, with specific rock textures. The company also had to take clay molds of fossils provided by ScienceWorks and incorporate them into the climbing wall surface.

The entire wall was built in Bend, cut into 4-foot-square panels and shipped to ScienceWorks. Entre Prises then bolted the panels to a frame on a concrete wall, then added climbing features and paint. ScienceWorks added geologic labels to the wall, created a safe landing area filled with eight inches of playground chips, and created, printed and installed interpretive signs. The time from initial design phase to completion was about 15 months.

"Climb Through Time" will be open during museum hours all year round starting today with the dedication of the wall at 5 p.m. There will be refreshments and a guided climbing experience with Mica Cardillo, founder of the Ashland Youth Climbing Program. At 6:30 p.m., Eisenberg will offer a presentation titled "Geologic Time and the Climbing Wall."

For more information, call ScienceWorks at 541-482-6767, or see the Web site ScienceWorksMuseum.org.