Registration for the 2020 Summer Expeditions will open in June 2020. Please click here to be notified via email when registration opens.

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 2 to 3 p.m. Summer Expeditions will be held on Wednesdays from June 24 to August 5 (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 activity you will be participating in when you come. Not all topics listed below are offered each date.

For example, registering for 6/24/20 - PLAN 1 – Material Science means you will be working with materials science researchers on campus and experimenting with all kinds of materials for the full hour-long session. 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:

  • Advanced Hearing: How does sound behave? Make your own musical instruments and explore how hearing works by designing models of medical devices.
  • Airbag Race: In this station, participants will identify the signs of a chemical reaction. They will also explore how surface area, temperature and concentration affect reaction rate.
  • The Way the Ball Rolls: Become an engineer and create your own version of using force and moving objects. This is a challenging hands-on event that will test your brain. You'll definitely want more time to keep building!
  • Brain Awareness: Discover which part of your body is the most sensitive to touch and notice how your visuals can be impacted.
  • Physics Museum: Physics is everywhere! Explore phenomena that make the world work at the Ingersoll Physics Museum (a five-minute walk).
  • Geology Museum: Can we explore geology on campus? Take a trip to the UW Geology Museum (a five-minute walk).
  • Allen Centennial Garden: Travel off-site to the Allen Centennial Garden on campus (a seven-minute walk) to meet a landscape architect and take a tour of a garden made of many different styles. Students will make a multimedia garden model. 

When You Arrive

Activities will start promptly at 2 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 activity. Participants are requested to stay at their activity for the full hour. 

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.

Transportation to the Discovery Building

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

The Discovery Building is located near several city of Madison Metro Transit bus stops, including the Randall Avenue and Engineering Drive stop on Route 80, which is the free campus route. For questions about bus stops and services, contact Metro Transit at 608.266.4466.

UW–Madison offers a strong network of bicycle routes, including several near the Discovery Building, and is continuously adding new connections. Bicycle parking is available near the entrances to the building.


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.