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Wisconsin Science Festival Oct. 18, 2014, in Madison, Wis. (Photo @ Andy Manis)

Dairy cows, carbonated fruit and virtual reality simulations are just a handful of the experiences to be had at the 2015 Wisconsin Science Festival, held this year from Oct. 22 to 25.

Now in its fifth year, the festival continues to grow, with more than 30 communities hosting activities statewide.

Laura Heisler, director of the festival and programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research, says the event has something for everyone and appeals to all ages and interests.

ScienceFest eyeball
A volunteer and a visitor examine the structure of an eyeball at the 2014 Wisconsin Science Festival’s Discovery Expo. Banner photo: A panel of experts discuss de-extinction at the 2014 festival’s Science Café. Photos: Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

“If you’re interested in sports, cooking, new technology, current events — you’re consuming science whether you’re aware of it or not,” says Heisler. “They all have science at their core.”

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) will have a big presence at the event, with faculty, staff and students participating in talks and activities covering everything from coffee to soils to gene editing.

“The festival is always a rich environment for both professionals and enthusiasts to discuss scientific issues of the day and discoveries happening in our state and around the world,” says CALS Dean Kate VandenBosch, chair of the festival’s planning committee. “This year’s ‘Made in Wisconsin’ theme offers a special opportunity to explore the science behind many Wisconsin products. It is truly a celebration of Wisconsin ideas and the innovations that grow from those ideas.”

Many activities will be held in the Town Center of the UW-Madison’s Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St., with other events taking place elsewhere in Madison and in many communities statewide.

Events that feature CALS experts include:

Wisconsin Agriculture: A History book talk
Friday, Oct. 23, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Historical Society
Author Jerry Apps, CALS emeritus professor, will discuss his new book at a joint WSF-Wisconsin Book Festival event.

Lights, camera, science: Using digital media and culture to excite Native youth about science
Friday, Oct. 23, 3–4 p.m. at UW-Madison Russell Laboratories
Patty Loew, professor of life sciences communication, will discuss her experiences training Native American youth to tell stories via digital video.

Dairy Cattle Center tours
Saturday, Oct. 24, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the UW-Madison Dairy Cattle Center
UW-Madison’s dairy facility will offer tours every hour on the hour.

Coffee talk
Saturday, Oct. 24, 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Discovery Building
Brad Barham, professor of agricultural and applied economics, will be among a panel that shares insights on roasting, brewing and the economics of coffee.

Designer genes: Should we be able to edit our genomes?
Saturday, Oct. 24, 1:15-2:45 p.m. in the Discovery Building
Genome editing using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique presents both tremendous opportunities and ethical challenges. Life sciences communication professors Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele will participate in an interactive panel that discusses what’s at stake.

Chocolate tasting: Hot chocolate and making the perfect emulsion
Saturday, Oct. 24, 4-5 p.m. in the Discovery Building
The biochemistry department’s Mark Anderson will discuss the physical properties of chocolate and how to use this information to make a perfect cup of hot cocoa.

Soils of Wisconsin: Ways of looking
Sunday, Oct. 25, 1-2 p.m. in the Discovery Building
Alfred Hartemink, professor of soil science, will be among a panel to discuss Wisconsin soils, part of an ongoing celebration of the International Year of Soils in 2015.

Check the Wisconsin Science Festival website for more detailed information about the full festival schedule for Madison and statewide events. Entry to most festival events will be free, though some activities may require nominal fees for materials. Some community partner sites may charge their usual admission fees.