Wisconsin Science Festival to Celebrate Scientific Discovery, Community

Wisconsin Science Festival attendees

Thousands of visitors, young and old, will have the chance to indulge their “inner scientist” during the 2014 Wisconsin Science Festival, with more than 20 communities statewide joining Madison in the event.

Now in its fourth year, the festival will be held Oct. 16-19. The event has established itself as a statewide celebration of creativity and scientific discovery for audiences of all ages. Some past festival favorites, like the Discovery Expo, will be featured again this year, but attendees can also expect a number of new programs.

With visitors from around the United States and even foreign countries, the festival has become a destination event that economically benefits the entire state, says Laura Heisler, director of the festival and programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

“We all have an inner scientist,” she says. “Science is part of every aspect of our lives, whether we’re conscious of it or not, and we’re all drawn to it. There’s amazing stuff going on in our state, done by people of our state, and we should be celebrating that.”

Whether you’re a foodie, sports fan, artist, or science geek, you can find something of relevance at the four-day festival. Most activities will be held in the Town Center of the Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St., with other events taking place elsewhere in Madison and in some communities statewide.

Events involving chemistry faculty, staff, and students include:

Discovery Expo
Master Glassblower Tracy Drier
Thursday, Oct. 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Discovery Building

Institute for Chemical Education
Thursday, Oct. 16 to Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Discovery Building

Nathanson Research Group: "The Incredible Surface of Water"
Saturday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Discovery Building

The Discovery expo features more than 60 exploration stations over the four days of the festival, with new events each day. Launch a rocket, make a cell, examine new materials, learn about polar ice, drive a robot, extract DNA, explore the brain, or make a bird feeder at this family-friendly event consisting of hands-on activities, exhibits, discussions and performances. Make sure to find Tracy Drier and the Wisconsin Fire Wagon during the Discovery Expo to learn all about the art and science of glassblowing. Then visit the Institute for Chemical Education (ICE) station to try out hands-on science demos for kids. Or, if giant bubbles sound appealing, visit the Nathanson group's station to find out about the surface of water.

Big Ideas for Busy People
Professor Laura Kiessling
Thursday, Oct. 16, 8-9:30 p.m., Discovery Building
More than a half dozen of UW–Madison’s best and brightest in areas ranging from cartooning to chemistry highlight their groundbreaking work — for five minutes — with another five for audience Q&A before it’s on to the next speaker. Big Ideas features Lynda Barry, Irwin Goldman, Laura Kiessling, David Krakauer, Rock Mackie, Li Chiao Ping, and Constance Steinkuehler Squire.

Science is Fun Extravaganza
Professor Bassam Shakhashiri and Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy (WISL)
Saturday, Oct. 18, 10-11:15 a.m., Room 1351 Chemistry Building
Professor Shakhashiri and other staff members of WISL will use spectacular demonstrations to communicate the wonders of science. Glowing liquids, exploding balloons and other vivid scientific phenomena will charm and fascinate the audience.

Theodore Gray Presents “Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything”
Hosts: Professor Bassam Shakhashiri and WISL
Saturday, Oct. 18, 11:15 a.m., Room 1351 Chemistry Building
The author of bestselling science books such as “The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe” will present his latest work, “Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything.”

Science Café — De-extinction: Back to the Future
Professor Lloyd Smith
Saturday, Oct. 18, 6-7:30 p.m., Discovery Building
Synthetic biology may make it possible to recreate extinct creatures. Where is the balance between preserving biodiversity and a real-life Jurassic Park? To the Best of Our Knowledge's Steve Paulson leads an interactive discussion between you and Stanley Temple, professor emeritus, forest and wildlife ecology; Pilar Ossorio, professor of law and bioethics; and Lloyd Smith, professor of chemistry, as they discern reality from fantasy.

Nerd Nite
Graduate student Emily Ruff
Saturday, Oct. 18, 8-10 p.m., Discovery Building
Nerd Nite is a monthly-ish informal gathering at which nerds get together for nerdery of all sorts. Nerds and non-nerds alike gather to meet and learn something new. The science festival edition of Nerd Nite will feature Jordan Ellenberg, Kristyn Masters, Emily Ruff and Eric Caldera.

Read the full story about the Wisconsin Science Festival.