Registration for the 2018 Summer Expeditions is now closed and will reopen for summer 2019 in May. 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 2019.

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 Wednesday afternoons during the summer from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and includes two 45-minute guided activities. Summer Expeditions runs from late June to early August.

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 6/27/18 - PLAN 1 - Video Game Coding/Energy Efficiency means you will be doing a video game coding activity for one 45-minute session and the energy efficiency 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. This summer, you can select to learn about the following activities:  

  • Discover the Disguise: Learn how insects and other animals use their unique features to blend into their environment. Enjoy a fun challenge of crafting a paper butterfly to be camouflaged in the Discovery Building!
  • Brain Awareness: Explore how the human brain works and how the body keeps it safe.
  • Engineering for Speed: Engineer your own model of a boat and hovercraft to test and race against your peers.
  • Chemistry Fun: Dive into the adventure of mixing different chemicals and seeing different reactions. Learn why chemicals react so differently when there are only small variations.
  • Allen Centennial Garden Tour: Travel off-site to the Allen Centennial Garden on campus (7-minute walk) to meet a landscape architect and take a tour of a garden made up of many different styles. Students will make a multimedia garden model.
  • Botany Greenhouse: Tour the UW-Madison Department of Botany Greenhouse (7-minute walk) to learn about the basic needs of plants and how a greenhouse works.
  • Physics Museum: Tour the UW-Madison L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum (5-minute walk) and explore hands-on physics exhibits.
  • Geology Museum: What geology can we explore on campus? Experience a trip to the UW-Madison Geology Museum (5-minute walk).
  • 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.
  • Bioinformatics: Learn how scientists use computers and math to explore information within cells. Students will participate in a fun hands-on activity using current technology.
  • Video Game Coding: Gain knowledge and see physical representations of how your favorite games have been created. Work like a computer programmer and code your own new ideas to popular games using a nationally recognized computer science curriculum.
  • Stem Cell Science: How do scientists study stem cells? Model a technique used to investigate this active research.
  • Energy Efficiency: Join the efforts of UW-Madison researcher Dan Ludois in solving problems related to energy efficiency.
  • Slow Food: Slow Food UW is driven by UW student volunteers’ dedication to promoting "good, clean and fair food for all" and depends on campus and Madison communities to create dialogues and bridge cultural differences by using food as a universal experience. We work hard to make local, community-conscious foods accessible and delicious!


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.