Science Expeditions 2011 Exploration Stations

Come experience these Exploration Stations at the 9th Annual UW-Madison’s Science Expeditions on April 2011 located at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Town Center (330 Orchard Street).

Aquatic Sciences Center – What’s in the Water? Bugs, Plants, and Slimy Things in your Lakes and Rivers
Come see how scientists and everyday folks learn about the quality of water in our rivers and lakes. Check out the equipment they use and measure the clarity of several water samples. Look at tiny critters from Lake Mendota under the microscope! And get a tattoo that says “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers”!

Arboretum – Prairie Secrets and Tall Tales
View live prairie plants and their root structures using computers and microscopes and ecide which prairie plant you are by using your height as compared to life-size pictures of prairie plants. Receive a bookmark and complete the picture by adding the right root structure and tiny organisms to their microclimate.

Biology 375 – Determining pH Levels
Using a variety of acidic and basic substances (probably no potentially harmful/dangerous ones), we will use litmus paper to determine individuals’ levels on the pH scale and participants will learn how to tell the difference between acid and base, learn the characteristics of acids and bases, and learn what the pH of our mouth is.

Biology 375 – See-Smell-Taste: Do Your Eyes and Nose Help You Taste Different Foods?
Close your eyes, plug your nose, and explore the relationship between a sense of sight, smell, and taste. Can participants guess what they’re tasting with their nose closed and/or eyes closed as well as they can with the help of all three senses? Compare guesses and draw a conclusion based on the comparison — does closing their eyes and/or plugging their nose make tasting more difficult?

Biology Outreach Club – Arabidopsis thaliana
How do roots know to go down instead of up? Why do scientists work on this strange plant? Come to this Exploration Station to find out!

Biology Outreach Club – Caenorhabditis elegans
At this Exploration Station, you can be the scientist who determines differences between mutant worms! You will also explore questions such as: What is C. elegans, and how is it used in scientific research?

Biology Outreach Club – Danio rerio
It’s striped like a zebra, and swims like a fish! Come to this Exploration station to learn about zebrafish and how scientists use them to study development.

Biology Outreach Club – Drosophila melanogaster
These flies are super sensitive! Come to this Exploration station to do your own study of fruit flies, and talk to scientists who study them every day!

Biology Outreach Club – Mus musculus
Eek, it’s a mouse! Come to this Exploration Station to learn about how mice have helped us learn more about genetics and human diseases.

Biology Outreach Club – Saccaromyces cerevisiae
Hot or cold? Learn about budding yeast and how the organism has adapted to life in different climates.

Biotechnology Center – Extracting DNA Glop from Wheat Germ
Participants are coached in how to use kitchen chemistry–water, dishwashing liquid, rubbing alcohol and a 6-inch Q-tip–to extract DNA glop from raw wheat germ. You’ll also explore how DNA is like the genetic recipe card of life, and ponder the power of recorded information (you can store, retrieve, edit, copy, express and share it), whether that information is on a recipe, a DVD, or DNA.

Biotechnology Center – Eyes, Ears, Mouth, and Nose: Bat Adaptations
View pictures of bats (at least 12 species), posters with bat information and photos, computer displays, and Echolocation video.

Biotechnology Center – Micropipettes: The Squirt Guns of Science!
Learn how to handle and use a $200 adjustable micropipette–an international icon of molecular biology invented right here in Madison–to measure and move a millionth of a liter of liquid. Micropipettes are used in research labs and clinics to measure everything from water and blood to buffers and enzymes.

BioTrek/ECiS – Caution! Starch Station Under Investigation!
Starch is a carbohydrate that is used for energy storage in plants. Your TOP SECRET mission will be to test for starch in different foods and and see if you can find starch. If so, which has the highest content? You will then pass this CLASSIFIED information on to other spies by using invisible ink.

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems – Cows Turn Grass Into Milk
Take a quiz comparing grassfed and conventional cheese and butter (including cheese tasting) and take part in a a hands-on activity on designing managed grazing systems using miniature electric fence segments, cows, a water trough, a dairy barn, and a pasture. Children will be encouraged to draw cows and pastures, and their artwork will be posted. There will be fun worksheets for kids to take home, as well as take-home information on the properties of grassfed dairy products for their parents.

Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution – Understanding Evolution
Evolution helps us understand why there are so many different kinds of plants and animals, how living things interact with each other and their environments, and the relationships between all living things. Evolution is a powerful tool that helps us solve problems in medicine, conservation and agriculture. Learn about basic evolutionary concepts that scientists use when they study the world.

Delta Program – Danger Zone! Exploring Natural Disasters
The earth is very dynamic and affects our lives in a huge way. Learn the importance of understanding these major natural disasters, how they occur, and what can be done to study and prepare for these events through a model volcano and models of lakes and rivers.

Delta Program – DNA Crime Scene Activity
Learn through a hypothetical criminal scenario how a criminals’ DNA found at the scene can be matched to that of the real criminal, out of one of five suspects. Sequenced DNA bands will be shown on an overhead projector where visitors can overlay suspects’ DNA with the criminals to find a match.

Delta Program – Fingerprint Your DNA
Extract your own DNA and see a visualization of it! Every living thing has DNA and every individuals’ DNA is unique and this has real life applications, for example, in crime investigation and human health/disease. Learn about some of the biochemical mechanisms of how DNA extraction works, how DNA is composed of four different nucleotides and has a double-helix structure, why detergent breaks down cell membranes, and why alcohol precipitates DNA.

Department of Medicine – Swallowing: A Race to the Stomach
Learn about swallowing and swallowing disorders by interacting with a hands on demonstration of how liquids flow through the mouth and throat to the stomach. One model will demonstrate a normal pathway, and a second model will demonstrate a disordered pathway. Choose and pour different liquids with varying thicknesses down the pathways, and compete to see which liquids flow faster/slower and provide potential benefit in disordered swallows. Moving x-ray images will be played as reference for the swallowing mechanism.

Engineering Physics Department/American Nuclear Society – Radiation Everywhere!
Come learn about the radiation that is naturally all around and in you! The station will feature radiation detectors and other hands-on demos to explore radiation.

Enlight Fountain Control Group – Electronics Exploration
Robots are here to stay! This station explores the world of robotics, electronics, and other computer controlled devices. There will be two robots and other devices that allow for hands-on interaction to foster an interest in a career or major in Computer Engineering and Science.

Entomology – Insect Ambassadors
Learn about the diversity of insects, metamorphosis, camouflage, display and mimicry. Learn about using insects to teach science and handle live insects!

EPD 690 Informal Education Class – Pitching Physics
Participants begin by throwing a baseball at a tarp and recording the speed of their pitch. Then, they hypothesize about how to throw the ball faster, and test their hypothesis. Presenters and participants discuss the physics of using one’s body to increase pitching speed.

EPD 690 Informal Science Education for Scientists – The Science of Color
Experience and understand that white light is made up of many colors. This exhibit will be mixing different colored lights using projectors to show that red, green, and blue can be combined to produce many colors, including a white light, and that this light mixing is different from paint mixing. The exhibit will also show how to separate white light into the spectrum using prisms and diffraction glasses/peepholes and contrasting incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs, showing that not all white lights are the same. Various posters will explain why the different colors of light are refracted and diffracted differently to produce the spectra seen with prisms and diffraction glasses, respectively.

Eye Research Institute – Different Ways of Seeing
How might a person with impaired vision see the world? With different abilities and limitations, what things are easy to do and what things are difficult to do? Looking through specially prepared animal masks (for children) or goggles (for youth and adults), participants can simulate vision impaired by: (1) central blind spots, often caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or Stargardt’s disease; (2) tunnel vision, often an early symptom of glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa; (3) impaired acuity across the whole visual field, occurring with cataracts and with congenital impairments such as optic nerve hypoplasia, albinism, and colorblindness. While looking through these mask and goggle simulators, participants will try activities including reading (varied print sizes), writing (varied pens and papers), telling time (using regular and large-print watches, a talking watch/clock, regular and large-print calendars), and vision testing with a traditional eye chart.

Eye Research Institute – A Squid that Glows in the Night
Learn about a symbiotic relationship in which light is fundamental. We will introduce a squid-bacteria partnership, explaining how bacterial light benefits the squid and how the squid may respond to the light signal. We will provide living juvenile squid and highly luminescent bacteria. The squid will be in a bowl of artificial seawater with a microscope linked to a computer, to make visualization easier. Bacterial plates will be in a dark box so that people can see that the bacteria are luminescent.

Food Science Club – Take the Flavor Challenge!
Through this hands-on (and nose-on and mouth-on) exhibit, Science Expeditions attendees will learn how we sense flavors and aromas and how expectations can sometimes confuse our senses. Stop in to see if you can guess the flavor of our mystery gummy candies and, at the same time, learn something about food science.

Forest and Wildlife Ecology/Zoology – Animal Detectives: Can You Solve the Mystery?
Use the physical characteristics of animal pelts and skulls (form) to match clues about each animal’s habitat and behavior (function). For example, learn how to evaluate an animal skull and predict what type of food it consumes. Some of the animal pelts and skulls included beaver, coyote, deer, hawk, opposum, otter, fox, badger, and skunk. Also, learn about cryptic coloration and how animals use this strategy to hide from both predators and prey by viewing color photographs of various animals in their natural habitat, and finding the ‘hidden’ animal to illustrate cryptic coloration.

Graduate Women in Science – Women in Science
Exhibit will be run by the Graduate Women in Science group. The learning objective is to raise awareness of the impact women have had in the sciences, both in recent times and throughout the course of history. For older children, we will have a game in which famous women scientists are matched to their major discovery. We will also have interesting facts about women in science and themed items to give away. For young children, we will have a nitrile glove decoration station (either to wear as gloves or to make into balloon glove animals).

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center – Brewing Future Biofuels for Sustainability
What will future biofuels be made from, and will they be sustainable? Come experiment with making biofuels and talk with representatives from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (, which is a national program funded by the Department of Energy and focused on the research and development of future biofuels. Not all biofuels are the same, and with successful research and development future biofuels can be sustainable. A special focus will be on how researchers can determine what would make a fuel “sustainable”.

IceCube Research Center – Ice Fishing for Neutrinos
Talk with scientists who have been to the South Pole and who are analyzing the data collected from over 5000 optical sensors. IceCube drilled 1.5 mile deep holes in the ice at the South Pole to build a neutrino telescope. Try drilling a hole in ice using hot water, see one of the optical modules, and watch animations of real neutrino events. Learn how easy it is to use water to drill holes in ice and that science can take you to exotic places to work.

IEEE Robot Team/ College of Engineering – Wisconsin Robotics
Learn about robots, drive robots, and make design decisions. There will be a small racing zone with small, remote-controlled robots. Try different gear ratios attached to the motor to see how they affect speed and power. Informative posters by the robotics team will illuminate the challenges faced at the college level.

International Professionals – Lactic acid bacteria for cheese
Lactic acid bacteria used in cheese and yogurt making can be observed with a microscope and, also, cheese samples will be distributed.

IPiB SFLC – Breaking the Genetic Code
Choose one of three activities that illustrate how to synthesis DNA from yourself or other protein sources. Participants will then be able to watch as the DNA is precipitated with isopropyl alcohol and can take home a sample in a microfuge tube. Three-dimentional protein models will be printed in our media lab and a video of transcription and translation will also be available (The Inner Life of the Cell) on a computer.

McMahon Lab, Civil/Environmental Engineering/Bacteriology Department – Man, Microbes and Water Cycles
Play a part in how water is recycled and learn the importance of water and nutrient management. Learn how good microbes clean up dirty used water, and why they are so important to our natural water ecosystems. Make “dirty water” and watch it flow through the different stages in a waste water treatment chain and out into the natural environment. Learn about the consequences of poor waste water clean up and problems that can occur with other microbes in the natural environment and peek into the aquatic microbial environment of lakes, like the ones in the Madison area.

Medical Student Association – MSA Human Organ Exploration Station
See organs of the human body and learn about the function of the brain, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. All of these organs are needed to keep your body healthy! Learn about the negative impacts of smoking, drug use, and alcohol consumption have on the human body.

Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center – Explore Toxicology
Explore toxicology through hands on activities and games that demonstrate the fundamental concepts of toxicology as it relates to health and the environment. Concepts of contaminant uptake and transport through the environment will be demonstrated through a game and an activity. The effects of pH on ecosystems will be demonstrated through a fun activity.

Morgridge Institute for Research – Educational Video Games Designed Around Cutting Edge Science
The Education Research Challenge Area at the Morgridge Institute for Research designs and develops educational video games and simulations based on the research that is performed at the Morgridge Institute for Research, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. View playable demos of two of these games, including a game about systems biology (Virulent!) and a game about anatomy and medical imaging (Oncology).

Morgridge Institute for Research – Incredible Stem Cells
Learn about the unique characteristics of human pluripotent stem cells, their role in science and their contributions to human health. Observe stem cells under a microscope, learn two laboratory techniques, and have the opportunity to play a fun and interactive trivia game on the SMART Board. Act like a stem cell scientist and explore the dynamic world of stem cells!

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies – Wildlife Health Event Reporter: Many Eyes, One Health
Have you seen sick or dead wildlife in your backyard or neighborhood? Learn about the online Wildlife Health Event Reporter ( or HealthMap’s smart phone app, “Outbreaks Near Me” to report those sightings. The WHER station invites you to become a citizen scientist in a hands-on, brains-on collaboration that may contribute to a better understanding of wildlife disease patterns and their potential impact on wildlife, human and domestic animal health.

Neuroscience Training Program – Brain Power
How exactly does the brain work? Do you ever wonder how your brain controls what you see, taste, hear, and smell? Participants in this session will get to see and touch a real human brain while they learn about perception and the senses, and make a neuron that they’re able to take home with them!

Primate Center Learning Lobby – Marmosets in our Midst
Meet a family of common marmosets in the Primate Center Learning Lobby. Enjoy a variety of hands-on activities. Learn why we need monkeys for research and how we care for them.

Science Alliance – UW-Madison Science Constellation
Explore how the UW-Madison Science Constellation enables you to come to campus to experience science as exploring the unknown within — and with — a community of researchers. Make UW-Madison your “Destination for Exploration” and navigate your way to over 30 science outreach venues that invite learners to come explore more. Use to plan your trek, and call or email the Science Outfitters at Visitor and Information Services who can help you chart your journey across the many fields of discovery here at UW-Madison.

Soil Science Badger Turf and Grounds Club – Turfgrass Science
Learn about turfgrass management and plant a grass seed in a cup. Learn how to obtain optimal growth for grass plants and turfgrass management, ranging from insect, disease, and weed control to choosing the right grass species for your lawn.

Students Participating in Chemical Education (SPICE) – Drops on a Penny
Participants will place as many drops of water and rubbing alcohol on to a penny. This demonstrates cohesion properties of water and alcohol. Participants can then place water in a small dish and sprinkle pepper and observe that the pepper floats on top of the water and, finally, place dish soap into the water and observe how that “breaks” surface tension.

Student Emergency Medical Services – The Pulse
Watch a two-minute video on Cardio-Cerebral Resuscitation (CCR) and practice the techniques presented on dummies. Other demonstrations will include ace bandages and simple splinting to demonstrate first aid and recording blood pressure.

Student Society for Stem Cell Research – Research Techniques
See hands-on demonstrations of stem cell research techniques and a wide range of learning opportunities.

Students Participating in Chemical Education (SPICE) – Drops on a Penny
Participants will place as many drops of water and rubbing alcohol on to a penny. This demonstrates cohesion properties of water and alcohol. Participants can then place water in a small dish and sprinkle pepper and observe that the pepper floats on top of the water and, finally, place dish soap into the water and observe how that “breaks” surface tension.

Surgery Department – Unlocking the Mystery of Voice and Swallowing
How many things can you do at once? Your larynx is responsible for breathing, swallowing and voice. Can you do this all at once? Should you do this all at once? Play our hold a note game, and come see how good are you at recognizing voices? Do you know how long it takes to swallow water, pudding, steak? Come to the Voice and Swallow exhibit and unlock the mystery of the multitasking larynx. This exhibit station will include both education on anatomy and physiology of the larynx as well as fun learning tools for voice, airway and swallowing for all ages.

Synchrotron Radiation Center – Uncovering Hidden and Useful Properties of Light
At this station participants will use scientific tools to uncover useful energy and time properties of light. The energy property of light can be used to identify chemical elements and molecules. The time structures in light can be used to study and/or stimulate chemical and biological processes that occur very quickly.

University Communications – The Why Files
Learn about the mission of The Why Files to explore the science behind the current news, and clearly and accessibly explain the relationship between science and daily life. Our exhibit showcases the learning opportunities available on our website: This exhibit showcases the learning opportunities at the website and the winners of their first annual Cool Science Image contest — a collection of provocative images created by students, faculty, and staff from the UW-Madison science community — images which help showcase of the wonder of science.

USDA Agricultural Research Station, Vegetable Crops Research Unit – Explore Pollination
Come find out how pollination works. Explore how pollinators are responsible for producing about 1/3 of the food we eat and how they contribute to the continued presence of many of the wildflowers you see in nature. See some bee pollinators and find out how they live. Find out why pollinators are in decline and what you can do to help.

WI State Laboratory of Hygiene – Microscopy: Take a Guided Tour Through a Specimen
Take a test drive with WI State Laboratory of Hygiene scientists looking at cells using a microscope or a computer. Learn how cytotechnologists, pathologists, and other laboratory scientists use this technology to evaluate cells to determine whether the specimen is normal; an infection is present; or if the cells represent a precancerous or cancerous disease.

WI State Laboratory of Hygiene – Genetics and You: How Much Do You Know About DNA?
Using microscopes, learn more about DNA. What do we inherit from our Mom and our Dad? What kind of genetic differences can run through a family tree? What’s a genetic mutation? How do scientists look at genes and chromosomes? How do Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene scientists use genetic testing to help patients and doctors?