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Discovery Town Center debuts Saturday Science Series for families

March 3, 2011 By Janet Kelly

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Town Center will debut a new monthly series of free science exploration and education programs aimed at kids and families this Saturday March 5. Its first program, Leopold Discovery Day, invites learner of all ages to celebrate the life and discoveries of legendary University of Wisconsin–Madison environmentalist Aldo Leopold, known as the “father of wildlife management.”

Presented by the Aldo Leopold Nature Center from 10 a.m. to noon, visitors can take part in a scavenger hunt in the Town Center, which includes an indoor Mesozoic-era forest, fossils in the floor and interactive displays and art. Many hands-on activities will be based on some of the pioneering naturalist’s favorite activities — fishing, identifying trees and animal tracks, and phenology, the study of season and climate changes on plants and animals.

Aldo’s Cafe, which opened in December as a coffee shop, bakery and casual lunch spot for the institutes’ scientists, as well as students, faculty and the public, will feature kid-friendly food selections, including “dino” cookies, on Saturday. The cafe, named for Leopold, strives to follow his teachings by offering locally sourced foods whenever possible and following environmentally friendly practices.

Upcoming Saturday Science at Discovery programs, to be held the first Saturday of each month, are scheduled for April 2, when the facility becomes the main venue for UW–Madison’s ninth annual Science Expeditions; and May 7, when the powerful science of the very small is the subject of NanoDays.

Located on the UW–Madison campus between University Avenue and Campus Drive at 330 N. Orchard St., free nearby parking is available on Saturdays in Lots 20 and 17.

The Town Center links the resident partners of the innovative Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building, the private Morgridge Institute for Research and the university’s public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, with each other, as well as the overall campus and local community. Made possible with support from private donors John and Tashia Morgridge, UW–Madison, the state of Wisconsin and WARF, the Town Center is a public space designed for all to gather, share ideas and celebrate science, creativity and exploration.