Wisconsin Science Festival draws young and old to explore scientific marvels

A volunteer explains the differences in pitch that occur in glasses with different amounts of liquid in them. Photo by Tyler Fox. 

Crowds of all ages attended the annual Wisconsin Science Festival at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID) building this weekend.

Attendees satisfied their curiosities of the science world with topics ranging from climate change to stem cells.

Booths within the WID allowed for hands-on experiences for patrons. One booth prominently displayed several 3D printers creating small toys, while another illustrated the power of chemical reactions and densities of different substances.

Spread out over the last four days, the festival partnered with hundreds of venues to celebrate advancements in science, technology, engineering, art and math. This year even featured a new mascot for the event — Beesly — a friendly bee character aimed to bring attention to the recent scientific developments involving bee populations.

Several forums were held within the WID to discuss science topics, including one led by Dennis Dimick, a former editor of the National Geographic, who examined recent developments on living in the Anthropocene — which is the current geological age in which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

The session involved a visual exploration into the scale of humanity’s increasing impact on the earth and its systems.

On Friday, an interactive climate change forum divulged how Wisconsin’s climate has changed in recent years due to greenhouse gases and increasing temperatures.

Madison West Rocketry provided a prominent display of their recent model rocket constructions, as well as an interactive booth where event goers could design their own paper rocket and launch them outside. Another of their booths allowed patrons to create plasma and explore how plasmatic plume is altered with voltage changes.

UW-Madison’s lab of Shakhashiri, the “master of chemical demonstrations,” according to their website, ran a prominent booth containing topics about the effects that different liquid amounts have on the pitch of wine glasses when struck. Also on display were several chemical reactions in which different chemicals were combined to show different pH levels of solutions.

The events indicated the strong commitment to outreach that the university and its affiliates hold in regard to the research performed on campus, as well as the current movement to get patrons of all ages more involved with practical science.

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