Registration for Afterschool Expeditions has concluded for the school year. For K-8 programs during the summer, please visit our Summer Expeditions and Saturday Science pages. Afterschool Expeditions will resume in fall 2019.

Afterschool Expeditions is a free program for students in grades K-8 to explore, engage and discover science from UW–Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research with structured hands-on activities. This program takes place during the fall and spring semesters. 

TO REGISTER:  You pick your adventure! The registration page will have different activity options for each date. You may select only ONE rotation plan per date. This lets us know which two activities you will be participating in when you come. 

For example, registering for Plan 1 on 10/1/18 means you will be doing DIY Microscope for one 45-minute session and the STEAMBots activity for the other 45-minute session that day. If you are registering a large group and think your group may want to divide into different activity plans, please complete separate registration forms to claim the spots in each plan. Preregistration is required as spots are limited each week.

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

Afterschool Expeditions

330 N. Orchard St., Madison, WI 53715
The program takes place Monday afternoons during the school year from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. and includes two 45-minute guided activities.

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 45-minute activity, students may learn about: 

  • Engineering Sound: How does sound behave? Make your own musical instruments and explore how hearing works by designing a model of medical devices.
  • Energy in Motion: How can we physically show how kinetic energy works? Use popsicle sticks to build shapes/structures high in kinetic energy to learn about kinetic energy and visualize the effects of kinetic energy.
  • Virtual World: Create a virtual world and then tour your own city. Learn how to become tech savvy. Use your skills to transfer creation form to real life form on two different computer-based objects.
  • Tall Towers: Let's have a competition! With a team, build the tallest tower possible, using the provided supplies, that is strong enough to support a golf ball on top for two minutes.
  • Totally Tubular: Aerodynamics: In this station, participants use wind tunnels to test the aerodynamics of different sport balls/equipment. For an added challenge, participants can test speed and spin in the wind tunnels.
  • Sustainable Earth: How do we use energy and materials? What is sustainable? Explore energy usage and production by conducting a mock energy audit, optimize a Lego windmill, and explore everyday materials.
  • Junior Science Cafe: Students will participate in a discussion with a scientist to learn about his/her work. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a conversation with the scientist and we encourage teachers/students to prepare questions in advance of the Junior Science Cafe. This session includes a digital scavenger hunt to explore the features of the Discovery Building.
  • Make a Golden Record: How would we show aliens/future space humans what life on Earth is/was like? Learn all about the Voyager Probes that have been sent to space to collect data with a Golden Record on board showing extraterrestrials what life was like on Earth.
  • Gaming: Behind the Scenes: How do we make computer games? Work like a computer programmer, using a nationally recognized computer science curriculum, to see how your favorite games work and code your own!
  • Gravity Visualized: How do gravity, potential energy, kinetic energy, force and friction work? Participate in a design challenge to create a vehicle that can complete an obstacle course and observe how gravity dictates the movement of celestial bodies using the Gravity Well.
  • Just Breathe: Create an arts and craft project focused on lungs. Learn the importance of keeping your lungs strong and healthy and how they affect everyday life.
  • Mosquitos and Microscopes: How do light and microscopes bring the unseen world alive? Using custom platform microscopes, you'll gather information by taking digital images and videos as you probe the world of insects and other small critters.
  • Visit the Physics Museum: Physics is everywhere! Explore phenomena that make the world work at the Ingersoll Physics Museum (a five-minute walk).
  • Snacks with Scientists: What's on my plate? Experience Slow Food UW, which is driven by the dedication of UW students volunteering to help promote “good, clean and fair food for all," and depends on both the campus and Madison communities to create dialogues and bridge cultural differences by using food as a universal experience. Slow Food UW works hard to make local, community-conscious foods accessible and delicious!
  • MilliporeSigma Off-Site Locations: Experience campus, take a small trip away from the building (typically a five-minute walk) and explore science with researchers on campus. Sponsored by MilliporeSigma.

When You Arrive

Activities will start promptly. Please consider arriving a few minutes early so you are prepared to begin on time.

Upon arrival, please check in with a staff member. Once you are checked in, you will be directed to your first 45-minute activity. Once that activity has been completed, participants will switch to a second activity. Staff will lead participants to their activity location during the switch. Participants are requested to stay at their activity for the full 45 minutes. 

Participant Expectations

Participants are encouraged to listen and follow directions of Afterschool Expeditions staff, volunteers and/or group chaperones.

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.

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

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 Afterschool 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 when they register for Afterschool Expeditions.

Parking at the Discovery Building

Low-cost parking is available across University Avenue in lot 20. Low-cost parking also is available behind Engineering Hall in lot 17.


If you have general questions about the program, please contact Jerrod Buckner, 608.316.4675.


Would you like to receive emails about specific programs taking place in the Town Center of the Discovery Building? 

arrowsubscribe by email

Afterschool Expeditions is supported by the Morgridge Institute for Research, UW–Madison and WARF.

Are you interested in participating in Discovery Building programs? 

arrowBecome a Presenter

arrowBe a volunteer