Rural Summer Science Camp

Helping high school students learn hands-on science

The Rural Summer Science Camp is a unique program in Wisconsin for underserved high school students.

The weeklong camps, held each summer at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wis., help rural students learn hands-on science and ignite their passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.


There is no other program like the Rural Summer Science Camp in the country. For 13 years, the camps have helped more than 300 rural high school students from nearly 80 state high schools. Some high schools have enrollments of 50 or fewer students.

Thanks to the outstanding support of private donors and the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, the Rural Summer Science Camp has been offered free of charge since its inception.

Since 2007, campers have attended from every corner of the state—from Shell Lake in the Northwest; to Laona in the Northeast; to the Oneida Nation in Central Wisconsin; to Darlington in the Southwest; to Elkhorn in the Southeast.

“Bringing the big world into our small communities is a huge positive. Some of our areas are so poverty stricken, so traumatized, it’s good for these students to have this opportunity. Where they might not normally branch out and feel secure enough to explore … some of these kids can now say, ‘I can do this.’”

Georgi, a teacher with the Wausaukee School District

Students spend a week learning from leaders in stem cell research, a field that UW-Madison and Morgridge helped make famous. Campers are taught by top scientists as well as graduate and undergraduate students from UW-Madison, the Morgridge Institute and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

Campers learn about stem cell science, medical engineering, bioinformatics and much more while immersing themselves in the work of scientists. The students even conduct experiments using the same technology operated by top scientists.

While at the UW-Madison campus, the students also hear talks on gene editing, cardiac cell differentiation, drug discovery, tissue engineering and other topics. The week culminates with poster sessions given to researchers and scientists in the Discovery Building.

Each participating high school sends a sponsoring science teacher who guides their student teams and participates in professional development.

The Rural Summer Science Camp is made possible by the following supporters:

  • The Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation
  • The Kathy Smith Fund
  • The Melita Grunow Fund
  • The National Science Foundation
  • BioForward
  • Any gifts from private supporters who believe in the power of science. Thank you.

Learn more by contacting towncenter@warf.org.