Since 1989, WISCIENCE (the Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement) collaborates with educators from all levels to create model programs, courses, events, projects, resources, forums for dialogue, and other solutions that help broaden participation in science and make science education and mentoring more effective for more people—at UW-Madison, in K-12 schools, and beyond.

Originally founded as the Center for Biology Education, the Center was a cross-campus unit focused on improving biology education. It has gone through multiple transformations over the years in response to campus needs but has always remained a cross-campus unit at UW Madison, serving the entire university as well as the surrounding community. Since then, the core programs and initiatives that had grown from the original Center for Biology Education were recognized as making significant contributions, particularly with regard to facilitating cross-campus collaboration and expanding access to science education for groups underrepresented in science. To support further development of this work, the mission was expanded beyond the biological sciences to all of the natural sciences. To match the mission, the name was changed to WISCIENCE.

In addition to its own portfolio of programs and courses, WISCIENCE campus collaborations over the years have made a significant impact. For example, WISCIENCE helped initiate the Undergraduate Symposium, NSF Broader Impacts workshops, and First-Year Interest Groups in biology (BIGs). WISCIENCE also initiated the collaborative creation of the Biological Sciences Course Guide, which became the model for the current online catalog for all courses, and was instrumental in the creation of the cross-college Biology Major and the Digital Media Center. 

These are some of the current programs designed and managed by WISCIENCE:

  • The Adult Role Models in Science (ARMS) program is a university/community collaboration to bring more engaging science to young people in the Madison area. The ARMS program offers courses and trainings to help adults (from college students to after-school program staff) become effective scientific role models who can help children think like scientists and build confidence around science learning
  • The BioHouse Residential Learning Community
  • The Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program, This ten-week hands-on research program is designed to give undergraduates—especially those who might not otherwise have it—a chance to experience the richness of bioscience research at a premier research university. There is no cost to participants, and housing costs are covered.
  • The IMPACT program prepares undergraduate students for peer leadership positions
  • The Scientific Teaching Fellows Program, a two-semester program that helps graduate students and postdocs to develop innovative and effective teaching methods in biology
  • PEOPLE program, a summer residential program for high school students.