The Wisconsin Science Festival’s statewide celebration is back, and for the first time features a full week of in-person and virtual activities across Wisconsin October 10-16.
Join the festivities with more than 300 events in communities throughout the state. Most events are free, including hands-on activities, talks with scientists and authors, films, performances, nature hikes, take-home science kits and so much more.
This year, both Superintendent Jill Underly of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Governor Tony Evers have issued proclamations that officially declare October 10-16 as Wisconsin Science Week to commend the importance of Wisconsin citizens engaging with science in all aspects of their lives.
“The festival creates a unique gathering of events that celebrate science, art and technology across our entire state, highlighting the vast amount of expertise and curiosity we can be proud of as Wisconsinites,” says Sam Mulrooney, incoming director of the 2023 festival.
Each year, the Wisconsin Science Festival highlights a specific aspect of the world around us. This year’s focus is a nod to the International Year of Glass.
“Glass is something that we all use, in ways that are both ordinary and surprising,” says Laura Heisler, director of outreach at Morgridge and co-founder and outgoing director of the Wisconsin Science Festival. “From Platteville to Sussex, Marshfield to Madison, we’re holding a number of events around the state that highlight the importance of glass in science, industry, art, medicine and more.”
Each year, the festival features several hallmark events. Back for its fifth year, Science on the Square features outdoor STEAM-themed activities as part of a special edition of the popular Madison Night Market with vendor tents up and down State Street and interesting exhibits, talks and menu/product specials at indoor locations—all of which engage local businesses.
“The beauty of the festival is seeing this network blossom and grow each year to create newfound community connections or bolster existing relationships throughout Wisconsin,” says Mulrooney, who is also a program manager for WARF and the Discovery Connections team. “Libraries connect to nearby companies, pub owners engage with local scientists, and campus organizations take nature hikes with community groups.”
Another popular returning activity is Science in a Bag, which debuted at last year’s festival. More than 2,000 free STEM kits will be distributed to participating libraries across the state for youth in grades K-12.
Check the Wisconsin Science Festival website for the full festival schedule.
Highlighted Events Include:
Stop by one of the 50 participating library locations across Wisconsin between October 10-16 during regular library hours to get a free Science in a Bag STEM kit, featuring activities appropriate for ages K-12 that highlight science and research happening in Wisconsin.
The Eau Claire, Dunn and Pepin County Medical Society is coordinating the Chippewa Valley edition of the science festival, which boasts many events in the Eau Claire area including the Science of Pasta Making on Oct. 12 and a Community Game Fest on Oct. 14.
A perennial hub of activity during the festival, the greater Sheboygan area is where you’ll find science stories October 10-16, a STEM Fest for 4th and 5th graders on Oct. 13 and an interesting twist on a museum tour October 11-16 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center focusing on the different ways galleries use glass to present and protect art.
The Green Bay Children’s Museum is exploring space October 12-16, the Atlas Science Center and Appleton Building for Kids are powering a STEM-filled weekend October 15-16 and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah is exploring the art of marbling on pumpkins Oct. 11. Libraries and venues across Door County feature activities throughout the week.
Science by the River takes place on Oct. 15 in Wisconsin Rapids. Plus, don’t miss educator workshops Oct. 10, a sandhill crane watch Oct. 15 and more in the scenic center of the state.
Explore the wonders of glass October 12-15 at the Pauline Haas Public Library, plug into the Wisconsin Tech Month events October 10-16 and expand your view of the universe Oct. 14 at the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee.
The capital city kicks off this year’s festival with Kiss My Glass at the High Noon Saloon on Oct. 11, an event for the 21-and over crowd (no cover) featuring the ever-popular Big Ideas for Busy People event, thematic drinks, Hip Hop Science and Nerd Nite! The fun continues with a special edition of Crossroads of Ideas on Thursday evening with Radio Lab co-host Latif Nasser and goes through the weekend with the signature Wisconsin Science Festival expo on Saturday. Several events will be held in partnership with the Wisconsin Book Festival, including a conversation with “The Martian” author Andy Weir about his latest work, “Hail Mary”.
Online and self-guided events are once again featured in this year’s festival and include the Maker Faire Milwaukee – NASA Day on Oct. 14, Apple a Day Facebook Live events October 10-14, virtual field trips Oct. 13, BioBlitzes and even a biophilia-themed corn maze at Treinen Farm in Lodi throughout the week.