On this site you will find information about our water monitoring project. This information includes an interactive map, recent news and events and information about our partners and collaborators throughout the state.

Recent News and Events

Science Strikes Back! Community Science Fair Creates a Space for All Scientists to Flourish

February 6, 2019

Upham Woods, alongside Escuela Verde, hosted the third year of Science Strikes Back, a Milwaukee based community science fair. This fair encourages community members to critically analyze environmental issues and solve problems in their communities, producing a strong network for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship. This year focused on water and the scientific process to answer learner driven research questions. This year’s theme of water was inspired and supported by Upham Woods’ participation in the Environmental Protection Agency Local Environmental Education grant number NE 00E02399.

Upham Woods Research Naturalist staff played a critical role in the planning and execution of the event. Research Naturalists connected weekly with Escuela Verde to plan for the fair. In addition to logistical support, the Research Naturalist team travelled to Milwaukee twice before Science Strikes Back to support projects and met with 162 students. Research Naturalists worked with students to refine their scientific procedure, relevant variables, and connected them to experts in their field.

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 like the Reflo Sustainable Water Solutions, Arts at Large, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the North Central Region Water Network. Judges spoke with project teams and picked winners for six categories: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and Weird Science. An additional grand prize was awarded to a project that addressed water in their community. 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.

Projects entered for the grand prize included designing bath bombs and testing how nitrogen circulates in an aquaponic system. The community emphasis produces projects meaningful to the scientist, the Young Scientist Club from the neighboring Urban Ecology Center studied how water critters in the Menomonee River behind the center adapt to chemical changes like pH. Feedback from the judges is made available to participating teams to encourage a circular scientific process.

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 amongst 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.

As Science Strikes Back continues, Upham Woods will continue to play a role in engaging Milwaukee’s burgeoning scientists through local environmental issues in new and creative ways.

To learn more about Science Strikes Back visit www.sciencestrikesback.com. To learn more about Upham Woods visit https://fyi.uwex.edu/uphamwoods/.

Science Strikes Back 2019

October 1, 2018

We are proud to announce EPA funding for the Science Strikes Back community science fair and thank the EPA for its grant funding of this project. Science Strikes Back: Empowering Students and Educators to Impact Urban Watersheds (SSB) will connect educators and students in the Milwaukee metropolitan area with the training and tools necessary to engage in hands-on environmental education and water quality monitoring. By participating in SSB activities and research accelerators, students and teachers in Milwaukee will be empowered to critically analyze environmental issues, solve problems in their communities, and make important decisions about local water quality. Project partners will provide resources and local content specialists that are critical to successful experiential science education programming. Through the development of collaborative relationships between students, educators, and content specialists from locally-based organizations, SSB will produce a strong network in Milwaukee for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship. Data collected from SSB will be uploaded here and is accessible to anyone who is interested in seeing the results of the students' inquiries. To register a project or check out more information, visit the Science Strikes Back homepage at wwww.sciencestrikesback.com.

If you are in the Milwaukee area and want to get involved, please contact R. Justin Hougham at justin.hougham@ces.uwex.edu

Participating partners:

Project Information

Upham Woods and their partners have been awarded a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Local Grant Program (Grant no. EPA-00E02045). This grant will support two years of DOTS implementation with a focus on local water quality.

Collaborators in this project include:

  • Escuela Verde
  • Urban Ecology Center - Menomonee Valley Branch
  • The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Reflo Sustainable Water Solutions
  • Friends of Wehr Nature Center

To learn more about our collaborators, check out the Partners and Collaborators page for bio sketches, pictures and updates on current projects.

To learn more about Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center visit our website:


To learn more about our environmental education initiatives statewide visit:


For more information contact

Dr. Justin Hougham

Director, Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center