Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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Tapping into knowledge: Local, statewide events aim to promote importance of science in our lives

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    Jeanette Kelly, the Citizen Science Center director at Beaver Creek Reserve, bands a northern saw-whet owl during a public demonstration. Banding owls will be part of the “Night Science” event this evening at Beaver Creek Reserve, four miles north of Fall Creek on Highway K. The event is part of the four-day, statewide Wisconsin Science Festival.

    Contributed photo

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    Weather permitting, viewing of the stars will be available tonight at Hobbs Observatory at Beaver Creek Reserve as part of “Night Science.”

    Contributed photo

Science isn’t something studied in school and then soon forgotten.

That’s why Eric Rykal, co-owner of Modicum Brewing, is one of several organizations, businesses and public facilities to host events this weekend as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival, which kicks off today in more than 60 communities across the state.

“That’s the whole point of this, I think — to remind people that science is everywhere and part of everything, even beer,” Rykal said. “It’s part of your every day, whether you like it or not.”

In its eighth year, the Wisconsin Science Festival aims to promote the importance of science and inspire discovery and innovation through local events across the state dedicated to varying topics of science to folks of all ages.

But the science events won’t just be in expected places like museums, said Laura Heisler, director of the festival and programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research. 

“The festival isn’t just activities in a science center, it’s out and about in the community,” Heisler said in a statement. “We’re adding a little science to places people are already visiting for fun and engagement, hoping to spark curiosity.” 

Activities in the Eau Claire area kick off at 6 tonight with “Night Science” at Beaver Creek Reserve, north of Fall Creek. The event includes a variety of activities, including lying “under the stars” before dark in the STARLAB, an inflatable and interactive planetarium that Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10 is contributing to the event.

When it becomes dark enough, about 7:30 p.m., participants can head to Hobbs Observatory on the Beaver Creek grounds as the moon, stars, planets and galaxies come into view. Public viewing with telescopes will be available, weather permitting. Nearby, Beaver Creek rescuers will be trapping and banding saw-whet owls, known as Wisconsin’s smallest owl species.

Brianne Markin, Beaver Creek’s marketing and development coordinator, said the reserve is excited to be part of the festival.

“Our mission is to connect people with nature, and this is a prime opportunity to do that and to get people more involved with Beaver Creek Reserve and nature and science in the future,” Markin said. “We want to be the starting point for when they hit the trails outside and discover nature.” 

On Friday evening, Modicum Brewing is hosting two back-to-back lectures at its Altoona brewpub on Spooner Avenue. Rykal will be leading the first one, starting at 6:30 p.m. titled “The Science of Beer.” 

The head brewer at Modicum will discuss the botany of beers’ raw materials — hops, barley and others — all the way to the chemistry and microbiology reactions that lead to the creation of beer. 

“It’s just kind of a rough introduction into various sciences involved in brewing,” Rykal said. 

The second lecture, “Science of the Night Sky,” led by astronomer Bert Moritz, will follow at 8:30 p.m.

Contact: 715-833-9206, samantha.west@ecpc.com, @SamanthaWest196 on Twitter


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