Science Strikes Back!

What is Science Strikes Back?

Science Strikes Back is an all ages, community science fair open to students and community members alike. Science Strikes Back aims to encourage youth and community members in Milwaukee to critically analyze environmental issues and solve problems in their communities. Through the development of collaborative relationships between students, educators, and content specialists from local organizations, Science Strikes Back will produce a strong network in Milwaukee for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship. Upham Woods was awarded funding for Science Strikes Back (EPA-00E02399) and the use DOTS project resources to bring together a network of environmental educators in Milwaukee to focus on urban water quality issues from September 2018 through August 2020.

Science Strikes Back 2021

This year, the annual, all-ages community science fair, Science Strikes Back, will be take place in a virtual setting. Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, along with partnering schools in Milwaukee like Escuela Verde, are excited to host the event during these uncertain times. They have seen how virtual connections and scientific storytelling can keep us connected to each other and the environment during the pandemic. Check back soon for more information on this virtual event!

Science Strikes Back 2020

Upham Woods, alongside Escuela Verde and support from the EPA, hosted the fourth year of Science Strikes Back – bringing over 180 community members together for a night of engagement and learning. The 2020 Science Strikes Back featured a grand prize category for projects that met the year’s theme of Conservation & the Urban Environment. The Research Accelerators program worked with students to refine their scientific procedure, relevant variables, and connected them to experts in their field.

Community representation spanned organizations, neighborhoods, and Milwaukee suburbs. Local organizations such as the North Central Region Water Network, Arts @ Large, and Milwaukee Area Science Advocates attended as judges to provide feedback for projects related to their expertise. Judges spoke with project teams and picked winners for six categories: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and Weird Science! While there are awards, Science Strikes Back emphasizes passion and curiosity above perfect execution. The event boasts weird science, projects in progress, and a judging rubric that accounts for originality, voice, community contribution and team collaboration.

Science Strikes Back 2019

grand prize winner of SSB

Bradley Tech High School student, Khari, won the grand prize at Science Strikes Back

Upham Woods, alongside Escuela Verde, hosted the third year of Science Strikes Back. The 2019 fair focused on water and the scientific process to answer learner driven research questions. The theme of water was inspired and supported by Upham Woods’ participation in the Environmental Protection Agency Local Environmental Education grant number NE 00E02399.

Through this effort, 35 projects were entered ranging from testing how classroom temperatures affect student attention to understanding the physics of sledding. 37 community members volunteered to serve as judges some representing local organizations. Community members wandered between projects contributing their own insight in discussion with the project team. Science flourished amidst the diverse group; one high school student commented that they, “loved the opportunity to get community members, scientists, and students all in one place.” One judge was struck by the utility of the science projects commenting on a project where a student designed their own glove, “I loved how your experiment was derived from a daily problem you have. You wanted a solution to your problem, a true engineers mind.”

At the end of the night the grand prize, an original piece of art designed by a Mark Winter, went to the Virtual Water Table by Khari from Bradley Tech High School. An interactive and colorful sandbox with a projector above it designed to superimpose topography and watershed demarcation. It was a hit among the younger crowd and adult educators. Winners from each category also won entrance to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Youth Summit in April and Upham Woods’ data summit camp in August.


For more information, please visit the Science Strikes Back website: https://www.