Registration for the 2019 Summer Expeditions is now closed and registration for the 2020 Summer Expeditions will open in May 2020.

Please check out the registration options for our Afterschool Expeditions program or click here to be notified via email when registration for Summer Expeditions reopens in 2020.

Summer Expeditions is a free 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 select Wednesday afternoons during the summer from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and includes two 45-minute guided activities. Summer Expeditions will be held on June 26, July 31 and August 7 (a special expo day).

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

TO REGISTER: You pick your adventure! The registration page will have a few different activity options to choose from 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. Not all topics listed below are offered each date.

For example, registering for 6/26/19 - PLAN 1 – STEAM Bots/Rube Goldberg means you will be learning about the STEAM Bots activity for one 45-minute session and the Rube Goldberg 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.

Our activities cover a broad spectrum of scientific topics. Examples of the activities you can select to learn about this summer include:

  • Engineering Patterns: Learn how simple patterns and rules can create complex materials and how we can engineer these patterns to our benefit.
  • Rube Goldberg: Learn how to build a Rube Goldberg machine and complicate a simple task.
  • Cloud Discovery: Create a take-home art project that explains the clouds in the sky. Understand what to look for in a cloud the next time it rains!
  • 3-D Printing: What can we make with a 3-D printer? Explore how 3-D printers work and use computers to design your own models.
  • Jell-O Earthquake: Engineer a perfect building structure and test your model over Jell-O!
  • Soundwave Machine: Explore the ups and downs of soundwaves and learn about the physics of sound.
  • F.H. King Gardening: Join us at the student-run UW–Madison Eagle Heights Farm to learn about growing food, compost, preservation and our local ecosystem, among other things.
  • Microscopy: 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.
  • Chromatography: Run a chemistry analysis separating the color chemicals in markers.
  • Hibernation Hideaway: We all know squirrels hibernate in the winter. With this hands-on workshop, experience a live action view and also learn how a squirrel’s biology allows hibernation.
  • STEAM Bots: Can we make art and do science? In this activity, you'll explore the principles of engineering and create a work of art that conveys a feeling or concept.


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 45-minute activity. At 2:15 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 45 minutes. 

Participant Expectations

Participants are encouraged to listen and follow directions from 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 Jerrod Buckner at or 608.316.4675. 

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