Radio technology, astrobotany, dairy science and computer coding are just a handful of science topics to be explored at the 2017 Wisconsin Science Festival, set for Nov. 2-5.

Now in its seventh year, the festival continues to engage communities in the enterprise of science and discovery and aims to communicate the power of knowledge and creativity, promote innovation and cultivate the next generation of global citizens.

From the “Extreme STEAM Discovery Lab” in Fond du Lac to Milwaukee’s “Creepy Crawly Zoo” at Discovery World, more than 40 communities are hosting activities statewide, making the 2017 festival the most expansive one yet.

Photo: Eric Wilcots

Eric Wilcots

Photo: Laura Heisler

Laura Heisler

Eric Wilcots, associate dean for natural and mathematical sciences at UW–Madison and chair of the WSF steering committee, says the science festival offers ample opportunities to cultivate a renewed sense of curiosity.

“I think every kid starts out a little bit as a scientist. At some point, they all ask ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions about the world,” Wilcots says. “Somewhere along the line, that curiosity can get lost. We’ve got to bring back that natural curiosity for people, and festivals are one way to get science to the public.”

Wilcots will be featured at a few science festival events himself, including this year’s “Big Ideas for Busy People: Big Data Edition” in Madison from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St.

The Big Ideas events involve high-energy, 5-minute flash talks, and a ringing gong that calls out anyone who goes over the allotted time. Laura Heisler, director of the festival and programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research, says that “big data” is an organizing theme that transcends specific scientific fields.

“Big data is really interesting, and it’s ubiquitous in terms of its impact on all aspects of our lives and of scientific inquiry,” Heisler says. “We’re featuring a range of experts from English to astronomy and everything in between to talk about the role of big data in research.” Read more about the festival here.