Science in Madison’s backyard and beyond will be in the spotlight for a weekend as the fifth Wisconsin Science Festival begins on Thursday.

A huge range of what science is will be on display – from the foods and drinks produced here, to games, nature, disease, hands-on science and scientists talking about what they do. The festival has moved throughout the state, too, with more than 70 other events happening across Wisconsin.

Most Madison events are at the Discovery Building, 330 Orchard St. With a few exceptions, events are free.

Portions of Friday’s “Made in Wisconsin” event have a charge. The expo-style event features a chance to interact with makers of state products ranging from tools and toys to beer and cheese. That is free, but for $15 there is also food from Steenbock’s on Orchard, Avenue Club, Cento, Johnson Sausage Shoppe and Wisconsin Brewing Co.

One of the first events at the festival Thursday features some of UW-Madison’s top scientists describing their life’s work in five minutes, followed by five minutes of audience questions before a gong sounds and the next scientist speaks. “Big Ideas for Busy People” will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Discovery Building.

Other Madison events include:

Discovery Expo: More than 20 hands-on science stations for all ages. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Author event: Eileen Pollack will discuss her book, “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club,” about women’s experiences and challenges in scientific and technical fields. 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Controversial topics: Panels of experts will discuss the Ebola crisis (3 p.m. Saturday) and gene editing (1:15 p.m. Saturday).

Nerd Nite: The monthly Madison science discussion group is held at the festival this month, at 8 p.m. Friday, featuring discussion, drinks and comedy.

Keeping the Great Lakes Great: Scientists from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee discuss research on the ecology of the Great Lakes. (11 a.m. Sunday.)

For more information, go to www.wisconsinsciencefest.org.

— Jane Burns

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the Discovery Expo hours.]

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