Our Approach

Fearless Science goes beyond laboratory research; it extends into the heart of our community. At Morgridge, “community” means partnering with youth, educators, scientists, and the public. Together, we build programs that spark curiosity in science, inspire the next generation of STEM professionals, and foster the holistic development of early-career scientists.

Our work is guided by four core principles:

  • Cultivate STEM Interest and STEM Identity

    A STEM career is not chosen overnight; it begins with a spark of interest and evolves into a strong self-identity as a scientist. Our programs, such as field trips and discovery expos, are designed to ignite this spark.

    We use a four-phase model of interest proposed by Hidi and Renninger (2006), where initial situational interest grows into sustained personal passion through continuous engagement. Imagine building a fire: our activities light the match and feed the flames, turning initial curiosity into a lasting desire to explore science.

    To transform STEM interest into a STEM identity, we embrace a model from Dorph et al. (2016) with four key components: fascination with phenomena, scientific sensemaking, confidence in STEM abilities, and valuing science. Our long-term programs, including summer camps and apprenticeships, incorporate these elements to help students see themselves as scientists. Through hands-on activities and close interactions with researchers, students gain confidence and recognize the potential of a STEM career.

  • Integrate Community Engagement into Scientific Training

    Scientific excellence requires more than technical skills; it demands the ability to connect, lead, and inspire. At Morgridge, we integrate community engagement into our postdoctoral and graduate training programs. Our scientists receive one-on-one advising and participate in professional development workshops year-round, honing their ability to communicate, mentor, and engage.

    We encourage all Morgridge scientists to engage with our community programs, fostering authentic connections that benefit both participants and scientists. These interactions rejuvenate our researchers, reminding them of their passion for science and invigorating their commitment to their work.

  • Champion Diversity, Inclusion, and Access to STEM

    We envision a future where the STEM workforce reflects the diversity of our society. At Morgridge, we actively reach out to historically underrepresented communities, ensuring our programs are accessible to all.

    In practice, this means prioritizing schools with greater economic need for our field trips, partnering with local organizations to serve diverse communities, and focusing our summer camps on students from rural areas across Wisconsin. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive environment where every young scientist can thrive.

  • Expand Our Impact Beyond Madison

    Situated within the world-class research environment at UW–Madison, Morgridge is committed to serving not only our local community but also reaching broader regions. As co-producers of the Wisconsin Science Festival, we bring the excitement of science to communities throughout the state. Our virtual field trips and other remote interactions allow us to connect with classrooms far beyond our geographic location.

    We also aspire to create educational materials that can be implemented in classrooms anywhere.