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Unleash your curiosity at the 13th annual Wisconsin Science Festival

September 26, 2023 By Isabella Moussavi
An overhead view of a table top covered in craft supplies. In the center, childrens' hands reach over a playdough sculpture of the state of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Science Festival welcomes people of all ages to celebrate science and curiosity across the state with hands-on activities, scientific talks, museum tours, and more. Romulo Ueda

Ready, set, science! The annual Wisconsin Science Festival, a statewide celebration with an array of activities and events happening October 16-22, is fast approaching.

Taking place during what Gov. Evers has once again proclaimed as Wisconsin Science Week, the weeklong festival boasts more than 300 events in 40-plus counties throughout the state. All are welcome to join the festivities through hands-on science exhibitions, performances, tours, pub nights, talks with scientists and authors, film screenings and so much more.

Each year, the Wisconsin Science Festival highlights a specific aspect of the world around us. In celebration of the many milestone anniversaries happening in Wisconsin, including the University of Wisconsin’s 175th anniversary, this year’s official festival feature is time and its influence on science, art and technology.

Sam Mulrooney, director of the Wisconsin Science Festival, says, “Time is one of our most precious resources and one of the most mysterious forces in our universe. It’s all around us, but many of us take it for granted. From Norwalk to Belleville, Marinette to Madison, we’re holding a number of events around the state that highlight the importance of time.”

One of those events is a special screening of “The End is Nye: Midnight at Noon,” part of a new series starring Bill Nye, who uses science to demystify our planet’s disasters and phenomena. Show director Brannon Braga and producer Rachel Hargreaves-Heald will host a Q&A session after the screening for both the in-person audience and viewers online.

A new addition to the festival is How it’s Made in Wisconsin. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and held in partnership with Wisconsin Tech Month, the initiative highlights unique products made in our state and the manufacturing processes that use science and technology to bring them to life.

“Each year it is so wonderful to see all of the amazing opportunities Wisconsinites have to explore the world around them and just be curious,” says Mulrooney. “We have a vast amount of expertise, creativity and innovation in Wisconsin, and the festival is a fantastic way to help connect these networks to inspire further engagement year-round.”

More than 60 Wisconsin libraries are among the dozens of event sites across the state. For the third year in a row, select library locations will distribute more than 2,000 Science in a Bag STEM Kits, which are free for local families to take home. Inside the kits are hands-on science and art activities that connect to research conducted throughout Wisconsin.

As one of the participating locations, New Berlin Public Library will also open up its Maker Studio for in-person craft projects available to community members of all ages. Activities include making your own fossils, duct tape watches and sundials.

“I really like this whole program with the Wisconsin Science Festival because it gives people of all ages and all demographics a chance to learn something new,” says Christine Weichart, a youth services librarian at the New Berlin Public Library. “It opens the world a little bit more.”

The weeklong Wisconsin Science Festival is a great time to unleash your curiosity and discover how science connects to our everyday lives. Explore nature at our BioBlitz. Take in a book talk with an award-winning author. Or celebrate Wisconsin’s tech industry with Wisconsin Tech Month. With hundreds of events throughout the state, there’s something for everyone!

For the full festival schedule, visit the Wisconsin Science Festival website.

Highlighted Events Include:

Milwaukee – Take a hike in Delafield, explore the night sky with the Milwaukee Astronomical Society, indulge in Science on Tap with the Milwaukee Public Museum, and sink your talons into a raptor program at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

Green Bay/Fox Valley – Explore the magic of science at the Green Bay Children’s Museum, take in a glass blowing demonstration in Neenah, and get hands-on at Atlas Science Center in Appleton.

Eau Claire/La Crosse – Trace yourself through time in Chippewa Falls, visit the Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire for a family science expo, explore the science and art of color at the Galaudet Gallery, and peek through a telescope in West Salem.

Ashland – Dive into wolf conservation at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, get hands-on experience with butterfly pinning in Cable, and learn about groundbreaking research with the Badger Talks program, which is hosting several engaging presentations from UW–Madison researchers throughout the state.

Madison – Big Ideas for Busy People: Am AI Art Too? will feature a discussion on the impact and inspiration AI has on creativity. Science on the Square, one of the festival’s flagship events, once again fuses with the Madison Night Market for a fun and energetic night downtown. Celebrate time and music at SoundWaves, or take in an author event at the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Tags: outreach