Science with kids: STEM learning in Madison

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When children (of all ages) have immersive experiences with STEM topics, they can become more excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Whether you’re looking to spur curiosity in young students on a national STEM/STEAM Day or you already have a science-obsessed child in your life, visit these 5 local destinations in Madison, Wisconsin to enjoy hands-on activities and explore science with kids.

UW-Madison's Ingersoll Physics Museum features a pendulum exhibit to explore science with kids.
A pendulum exhibit at UW-Madison’s Ingersoll Physics Museum.

Science with Kids – Five Local Stops

Wisconsin Science Museum

Located in Madison, the Wisconsin Science Museum focuses on scientific discovery. The hands-on experiences inspire learning across many topics, like lasers, nanotechnology or cancer treatment. The space also showcases unique historic instruments that connect to research happening in Wisconsin. Admission is FREE!

Bonus! Learn science at home with one of four fun hands-on projects and step-by-step instructions.

Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District

Do you know how the water we use each day is cleaned before it returns to streams and rivers? Take a 90-minute tour of the District’s Nine Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant. You’ll learn about the treatment process and the steps you can take to reduce water pollution. Plant tours are free, but must be scheduled in advance.

Learn about our First Friday plant tours or take a virtual tour of the Nine Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant instead.

UW Geology Museum

Take a peek into Wisconsin’s deep history at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum. Take a self-guided tour as you touch ancient rocks, view sea creatures that used to live in oceans that once covered Wisconsin, explore a model of a cave alit with minerals that glow and see a complete mastodon skeleton. Admission is free.

Read an article on The Mysterious Mastodon to learn more about the famed Wisconsin fossil.

Wednesday Nite @ The Lab

Attend a free lecture from UW-Madison scientists as they share their research, investigations and inventions. Held on Wednesdays 50 weeks of the year, these presentations cover topics from astronomy to zoology to engineering and technology.

During COVID, presentations were conducted on Zoom and YouTube livestream. You can watch past events at home on YouTube.

Leonard R. Ingersoll Physics Museum

Another University of Wisconsin-Madison treasure, the Ingersoll Physics Museum has over 65 exhibits in its space. Get hands-on with physical concepts ranging from mechanics to modern physics in a kid-friendly environment. It’s free to visit and explore.

Preview the museum exhibits and learn about what you’ll find on their website.

Before visiting any location, check with the organization to verify their hours and whether they are open to the public. In addition, watch for additional STEM activities, museums and fun places to visit with kids in the Culture & Society section of our blog!

Article written by Amy Steger