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The Town Center at the Discovery Building is an exceptional destination for scientific exploration. We offer several field trip workshops for students in elementary, middle and high school. All groups interested in a field trip must fill out an online registration form. The workshops we offer are described on our K-23-5middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12) program pages.

Prescheduled field trips to the Discovery Building are offered from October through May. Field trip registration opens in mid-August for the entire school year. Field trips also are offered as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival in the fall.  
 

Who Can Attend

Class groups from elementary, middle and high schools; homeschoolers; and community groups with at least one adult (18 years or older) chaperone per 10 youth. Groups should have a minimum of 20 students. See the registration form for the maximum number of students allowed (varies by date).  

Where

Field trips take place in the Town Center (first floor) and in teaching labs located on the research floors of the Discovery Building, staffed with scientists committed to bringing cutting-edge science experiences to students of all ages.

What

Students participate in hands-on workshops geared for various grade levels from kindergarten through high school. These experiences are aligned with state and national standards. The workshops we offer are described on our elementary schoolmiddle school and high school program pages. 

There are different field trip workshops available during the fall and spring semesters for K-2, 3-5, middle and high school levels. You will need to select your preferred workshop experience based on the age of the students and time of year.

When

Field trips generally are offered Wednesdays and Thursdays* during the fall and Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the spring. Not every workshop activity is available each day. When you fill out the online field trip registration form, you will select your desired field trip dates and workshops; please note the different field trip times offered below. We will be in touch to confirm that the topics and dates you selected are available.

Most field trips consist of two 75-minute workshops in a lab setting. Groups are split into two groups, which complete workshops simultaneously and then switch labs to complete the second activity. Most workshops are limited to 25 students per activity with groups rotating through activities. The recommended number of students per field trip is 50 or less. The maximum number of students we can accommodate at one time is 75, depending on the date. If your group is larger than 75 students, you will need to come on separate field trip dates. 

Field trips do not have a lunch break built in but there is the option to eat lunch on the Town Center floor following the conclusion of your second activity.

Field Trip Schedule: 9:30 a.m.-noon, back-to-back activities
9:30-10:45 a.m. – Workshop Activity 1
10:45 a.m.-noon – Workshop Activity 2
Noon-12:30 p.m. – Optional lunch time

*Special Programming (Thursdays in the Fall)
K-2 groups will be eligible to register for our Fossils and Geology Museum combination field trip. This allows a maximum of 120 students to experience a Fossils Exploration workshop at the Discovery Building combined with a field trip to the nearby Geology Museum (five-minute walk). Groups will split into a maximum of two groups (60 students in each group). One of the groups will complete the Fossils Exploration activity while the other group explores the Geology Museum. The groups then switch activities. 

Schedule for Fossils/Geology: 9:30 a.m.-noon, back-to-back activities
9:30-10:40 a.m. – Group 1 at Discovery / Group 2 at Geology
10:40-10:50 a.m. – Switch/Walk time
10:50 a.m.-noon – Group 2 at Discovery / Group 1 at Geology 
Noon-12:30p – Optional lunch time

How

To schedule a field trip, groups must complete an online registration form. Activity offerings depend on the semester and date selected. Registrations are booked on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to availability.

Please review our visitor guidelines with students and chaperones prior to your visit. 

Parking

The Discovery Building has a 10-minute loading/unloading zone for buses on Orchard St. This is also the entrance your group should use. Four free bus parking spaces are located at Lot 45 (Southeast corner of Dayton St. and Mills St.). Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional bus parking is available in campus Lot 130  (driver must stay with bus at this lot). You can access a campus map to search for lot locations. Parking for vehicles other than buses is available in lots 17 and 80. Please use the campus map for details about parking options and costs. Download our parking options flyer.

Lunch Policy

Students are allowed to bring sack lunches to eat in the Town Center. However, no food purchased from an outside caterer or food vendor (other than your school cafeteria) is allowed. 

Please note that we do not have a cafeteria or room in which students can eat a snack or lunch. We designate an area on the Town Center floor for students to eat their lunch.

Dress Code

Students and adults working in a laboratory setting need to come dressed appropriately for the environment. Discovery Building staff will provide personal protection equipment (lab coats, goggles and gloves) whenever required.

  • All student and chaperones must wear closed-toe shoes.
  • No shorts or skirts unless the skirts are full-length.
  • Long hair must be pulled into a ponytail.

Cost

Field trip fees are $4 per student and include two workshops. Discounts are provided based on your school’s free/reduced lunch statistics or students with special needs. Please provide any relevant information when completing your registration form. All groups will be invoiced for their visit after the trip based on the number of participants confirmed two weeks before the field trip date. Please do not bring payment on the day of your visit.

Limited funds are available to cover a portion of the cost of transportation for qualifying groups to bring school-aged children to the Discovery Building for field trips. Partial reimbursements are available on a first-come, first-served basis for schools based on need. 

Questions about field trip visits to the Discovery Building should be directed to Sam Mulrooney at 608.316.4390.

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Support

Field trips are supported by the Morgridge Institute for Research, UW–Madison and WARF.