Summer Expeditions

Weekly drop-in program for K-8 students during the summer

Summer Expeditions has ended for the year. Please join us this fall for Afterschool Expeditions.

Summer Expeditions is a free, drop-in program for students in grades K-8 to explore, engage and discover science at UW–Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research with structured hands-on activities.

The program takes place on Thursday afternoons during the summer from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and includes two 50-minute guided activities. Summer Expeditions runs from June 25 through August 13.

Selections vary from week to week. Each activity is led by a trained staff member or volunteer and includes interactive, hands-on activities.  

Our activities cover a broad spectrum of scientific topics. In one 50-minute activity, students may learn about:  

  • Fossils: Explore the worlds of paleontology and archaeology, focusing on the formation, excavation and examination of fossils.
  • Water Chemistry: Investigate the properties of water through a series of water-related experiments to learn more about cohesion, adhesion and density.   
  • Fibonacci: Learn about the amazing Fibonacci sequence (0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5) that is found in nature and featured in five art installations in the Town Center of the Discovery Building.
  • Moon Drop: Take on the engineering challenge! Build a spacecraft to help your astronauts land safely on the moon.
  • Mesozoic: Travel back in time to the Mesozoic Age to explore what the Earth looked like during the time of the dinosaurs.
  • And more!

When You Arrive
Activities will start promptly at 1:30 p.m. Please consider arriving a few minutes early so you are prepared to begin on time.

Upon arrival, please check in with a staff member who will be located near the welcome desk at the Orchard Street entrance. Once you are checked in, you will be directed to your first 50-minute activity. At 2:30 p.m. all participants will switch to a second activity. Discovery Building staff will lead participants to their activity location during the switch. Participants are requested to stay at their activity for the full 50 minutes.

Participant Expectations
Participants are encouraged to listen and follow directions of Discovery Building staff, volunteers and/or group chaperones.

We encourage youth to view the interactive science displays and have fun, but please keep in mind that the Discovery Building is a research facility and professional workplace.

Chaperones and parents are expected to stay with their youth at all times. Additionally, chaperones and adults are encouraged to assist in activities, ask questions and assist with keeping youth engaged.

Transportation Reimbursement
Limited funds are available to reimburse all or part of the cost of transportation for qualifying groups to bring school-aged children to the Discovery Building for Summer Expeditions. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis for programs that support students eligible for free/reduced lunch. Groups can indicate their interest on the registration form.

If you need immediate assistance, please contact Becky Balistreri at or 608.316.4382. If you have general questions about the program, please contact Dan Murphy at or 608.316.4656.


Adult supervision is always required, with at least one adult (18 years or older) chaperone per 10 youth.

Registration is requested for individuals and groups. For smaller groups and families, registration is encouraged, but drop-ins are accepted. There is no cost to participate. For groups of 10 or more, preregistration is requested.

Registration for Summer Expeditions 2016 will be available in the spring.

Call for Presenters!

Interested in presenting at Afterschool Expeditions? Sign up here.

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