2013 “Name the Alligator Contest” Winner! December 11, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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The Science Center would like to congratulate Jaden Brehm (Grade 2-Mrs. Small’s class at Francis Wyman School) for winning our “Name the Alligator Contest.” He received an award plaque and a goody bag of science prizes. He also had his picture taken for the front page of the daily Burlington newspaper. Be sure to look for it!
The Science Center hold this contest very year for second grade. The alligator is used for the second grade reptile program by the Science Center and also for other programs throughout the schools.
Thanks to Joe Brown for taking pictures for the newspaper. http://www.joebrownphotos.com/
Girl Scouts visit the Science Center November 25, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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The Science Center works with many organizations, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We had a recent visit from girl scout troop 65411 from Lexington, MA. They were interested in learning about animals and their connections with nature. Here are some photos from their visit.
Fall at Burlington High School November 5, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
I dropped my car off last week across the street from the BHS football field. As I walked down the entrance road to the school, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of fall that surrounded me. It was cool and crisp. The fog had started to lift and the plant life was covered with dew. I found myself in awe of nature, taking pictures and identifying local plant species. I felt fortunate to live in an area that showed such dramatic changes with the seasons. Here is some information and photos from my walk.
Spotted Jewelweed: Jewelweed is a wetland plant which prefers the shade. It’s nickname is the “touch-me-not” plant, due the fact that its seed pod explodes open when it is touched. Jewelweed is known as an antidote for posion ivy (crush and rub the liquid to sooth itching). It is also visited by several nectar-loving animals including bees, butterflies and birds. I particulary love its flowers.
Northern Catalpa Tree: This tree is deciduous with large, heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 60 feet tall. It prefers moist soil and has very light, but strong wood. What I noticed most about this tree was the almost 2 foot long, thin seed pods, which resemble a long string bean! European settlers used this tree for fence posts, railroad ties and fuel.
Bittersweet: This is an invasive species from Asia that smothers our local plant life. It is a vine that can grow up to 60 feet tall and 6 feet across at the base. It produces very beautiful berries (fruits) which are eaten by birds (hence seed dispersal).
Common Reed/Phragmities: Phragmities is another example of an invasive species, which originated from Europe and Asia. It invades wetland areas and takes over an area into a large group called a “colony.” It makes a soft bristle sound as the reeds blow into the wind.
Poison Ivy: I always teach my students that posion ivy is not always green & red or only green. Fall is a perfect time to observe that this plant can be a varietyof colors. Remember the saying “Leaves of three, let it be.”
Cattail: This tall, aquatic plant is a member of the grass family. It prefers shallow water and is known for its sausage-like flower. This plant is highly edible and the entire plant can be eaten depending on the time of year. Native people used the leaves as siding for their homes and others used the seed fluff to dress wounds.
Pokeweed: Pokeweed is a perennial herb with magenta stems and clusters of dark purple/black berries. The entire plant is mildly poisonous so be sure to keep away children and small pets. Pokeweed has long been thought to have medicinal value. At one time it was used to cure everything from boils to acne. Today, Pokeberry is being researched as a possible treatment for cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, a chemical found in pokeberry juice has been used to successfully treat cancerous tumors in laboratory mice. The chemical is also being tested to determine if it can protect cells from HIV and AIDS.
Burning Bush: Burning Bush is a favorite landscaping shrub, due to its vibrant red color in the fall. This invasive plant is from Asia and has been banned from sale, trade or distribution all across MA. It can easliy thrive in most habitats and can be harmful to the ecosystem.
Maple Tree: The spledor of a maple tree is evident in its change during the fall. This is one of my favorite trees at BHS during the fall. The foliage of trees changing color in the fall is amazing!
While on this walk, I felt I was living “in the moment,” surrounded by the beauty of nature and our earth. Life goes by so fast sometimes, so please remember to take the time and explore the amazing world around you.
The Curious Mystery Animal November 1, 2013Posted by MrMusselman in Science Center.
Tags: animals, Grade K, investigation, Pine Glen, video
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Mr. Musselman recently collaborated with Laura D’Elia, Dan Callahan, and Kindergarten teacher Mellissa Parnell on developing a unit where students explored animal families while learning how to read and glean important facts from notes and other non-fiction. Their full blog post can be found on the PineGlenLTC blog here.
The curious mystery animal gave kids a chance to not only learn about animal families and pick out important facts from reading but make claims using evidence, an important scientific practice! The concept of visualizing data in the form of a graph was also introduced when “Dr. Curious” visited the Kindergarteners to hear their persuasive arguments first hand.
Reverse Engineering Flashlights October 31, 2013Posted by MrMusselman in Science Center.
Tags: electricity, engineering, Grade 3, light, Memorial
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With most of the Memorial School’s third graders turning themselves into ghouls, fairies, and superheroes tonight, the third grade teachers and Mr. Musselman recognized a perfect opportunity to integrate some STEM and safety into their halloween plans!
Students “reverse engineered” simple flashlights to explore how they worked. Besides looking into the circuitry of the flashlight and how the parts worked together to make the flashlight turn on and off, students also explored the design properties of the “reflector” to better understand how the flashlight takes a light source like a bulb and focuses the light into one direction.
At the end of the day students put the flashlight together and had a great tool to use tonight as they trick-or-treat through their neighborhoods!
Tortoise lays eggs October 28, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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Our female red-footed tortoise, Shelby, began digging in the dirt last week in her outdoor enclosure. We also noticed she had bubbles around her eyes, which are often called “egg laying tears.” We were very excited as we knew from previous years that it meant she would soon lay eggs!
Shelby then proceeded to lay 5 eggs in the hole she had dug out.
Her next step was to bury them so they could incubate in the ground. The Science Center carefully pulled the eggs and put them into an incubator (the temperatures at this time of year are too cold for the eggs to survive). We placed dummy eggs in the nest so Shebly would feel her responsibilties were completed.
The eggs are incubating in the Science Center and we will candle them in a week to see if they are fertile.
Redfoot Tortoises lay large round eggs (40-45mm in diameter). Clutch size ranges from 1-13 eggs. They usually lay 4-6 eggs. If fertile, the eggs will take 3-4 months to hatch. We are hoping for baby tortoises!
Science Night at Memorial School October 21, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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It was a full house for the Science Center and Memorial PTO’s “Science Night” at Memorial School. This free event was centered around science fun and exploration. The theme was “night” and included many activities such as straw rockets, mystery matter, make-your-own-constellation, nocturnal animals and our very own Star Lab Planetarium!
We would like to thank the PTO for their support and efforts. Also, a special thanks to our Science Center high school aides and Cambridge College volunteers. The Science Center will bring “Science Night” to one of our other elementary schools next year.
Pumpkin Science Shows October 4, 2013Posted by MrMusselman in Science Center.
Tags: Memorial, pumpkins
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Mr. Musselman has been busy this past week sharing “Pumpkin Science” with Burlington’s second graders. Students have been enjoying learning about the anatomy of a pumpkin, predicting whether a pumpkin floats or sinks, and then following up with some halloween investigations around the science of fire.
To send the students away with a bang, Mr. Musselman has been sharing an impressive chemical reaction demonstration he likes to call “Pumpkin Vomit.” The chemical reaction is better known as “Elephant Toothpaste” across the YouTube world. It can be done safely with some home friendly ingredients… the most important being the dish soap!
When the reaction begins, oxygen is created and heat is released. Since oxygen is a gas at room temperature, the gas begins to rise out of the mixture… but not before the dish soap creates bubbles ensnaring the oxygen! With so much gas being released, the bubbles quickly overcome the size of their container and the giggles from curious onlookers start to spill over too!
Thanks to Memorial teachers, Erica Farrand and Barbara Nelson for taking these excellent photos!
Classroom Pets! September 23, 2013Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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The Science Center offers all-year pets to interested classrooms throughout the Burlington Public Elementary Schools. We provide the animal, cage, food and bedding for the year. The classroom provides all the care and attention the animal will need, which includes over the long weekends and vacations throughout the school year. The animals used for this program typically include hamsters, gerbils and fish tanks.
Ms. Pavlicek delivers the animal and provides a lesson to each class. They learn characteristics of the animal, the specific needs to care for the pet, and the correct techniques of handling. There is also a discussion of how the animal should be treated and some extra time spent answering the student’s questions. Each classroom teacher designates certain students as “zookeepers” or “pet care takers” for the week.
Ms. Pavlicek recently dropped off a classroom pet to Mrs. McLaughlin’s second grade class at Memorial School.
Overall, the classroom pet program provides insight to students about the responsibilities of taking care of something on a daily basis. We feel it is important to give each student the opportunity to care for a living thing, teach them how to respect and treat these living things and to be able to experience the wonder of animal behaviors. This program is also very beneficial to students who may not be able to have a pet of their own at home.
Want an Authentic Learning Experience? Volunteer at the Science Center September 14, 2013Posted by MrMusselman in Science Center.
Originally posted on my personal blog: www.musselmanscience.com
So much of what education reformists, administrators, and teachers talk about is the need for students to engage in authentic learning experiences. Knowledge and skills that are developed in prospective career dimensions and assessed in ways beyond straight-forward multiple choice or fill in the blank examinations.
As I enter my third year at the Burlington Science Center I recognize that I am truly blessed to work in an environment that presents those opportunities to anywhere between twenty to thirty high school student volunteers each year. Science Center volunteers, in lieu of their scheduled study halls throughout a given week, help maintain the animal room by partaking in the daily rituals of pet maintenance. No job is too surly. Feed the hamsters. Clean the owl cage. Give the tortoises a bath. Students are introduced and trained to tend to the individual demands of creatures ranging from hissing cockroaches to red-tailed hawks.
|An hour after school, Zack and Laura are still helping out around the Science Center.|
What impresses me most is how the students simply can not get enough of the time and experience in the Science Center. Even after spending a full-period scrubbing, rinsing, sorting, and feeding, a number of students return to the center after school to continue the work, helping Science Center Director and animal expert, Wendy Pavlicek strike any remaining chores off the to-do list. Why do they do it? A love for animals? A penchant for pungent odors? I believe it is because for some, its the most authentic learning experience they encounter from day to day.
Take Sam Hovasse, a Burlington senior entering her third year volunteering at the Science Center. Besides gearing up for a year full of college applications and rigorous academic courses, Sam was recently hired at a animal hospital in Woburn. For Sam this is a tremendous opportunity. “Its a stepping stone to my goal of being a veterinarian or vet technician.”
This hasn’t always been Sam’s vision. “Before the Science Center I only owned cats and had read about horses” says Sam. “I had no real pet experience except feeding the cats and changing their litter box.” All that changed when she began to volunteer at the Science Center. “Miss Pavlicek started me on ferrets. I loved Demes and Abby. I would change their paper and bedding, clean their litter boxes, refill their food and water, and then play with them… ferrets need four hours of play a day.” For Sam, the ferrets were a gateway to other animals, particularly mammals. “I don’t mind snakes and reptiles, but I really love mammals.”
|Sam Hovasse and “Bubbles,” one of the Science Center’s many mammals.|
When Demes health took a turn for the worse, Sam stepped up and provided the additional care needed. “I took care of Demes when he contracted cancer. I would monitor his health, feed him sugar water when he appeared low, and even revive him from comas.” The lessons and mentoring came through Wendy Pavlicek, who put the trust in Sam to care for the animal despite his fragile condition.
When Sam applied for a job at the vet office they asked about her experience with dogs. Sam replied honestly, “I don’t have a lot of experience with dogs, most of my experience comes from the Science Center animals.” But Sam proceeded to list the variety of creatures she had cared for over her two year tenure, adding “you never know what will come through the doors.” Sam now primarily works with dogs in the clinic’s kennel. She starts a shadow internship in the main facility in February. The experience at the clinic will just be the next step in a series to her ultimate career goals.
Will all Science Center volunteers pursue careers in veterinarian science and animal care? Certainly not. But many will gleen positive work habits and skills like organization and multi-tasking from their work. “You must be able to multi-task,” Sam told us. “Handling interruptions are part of the game at both the Science Center and in real life at the clinic.”
The Science Center is a special place and experience, but there are only a few in the state of Massachusetts. This leads me to wonder openly: How else can we create authentic learning experiences for our students in our schools? What kind of real-life opportunities do we present to students who are interested not just in sciences but in the arts, business, tech-sector, and beyond? How can the Science Center expand to offer more authentic experiences to even more participants?