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Pine Glen’s Bridge Engineers February 3, 2017

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“Twenty One Elephants and Still Standing” by April Jones Prince

Second graders at Pine Glen have been ‘building’ an understanding of how engineers select materials for specific purposes through their new “bridge engineering challenge.” Before being introduced to the challenge teachers read the core book, “Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing” a picture book documenting how P.T. Barnum seized the attention and awe of New York City by marching  his circus star elephants across the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge, proving to the masses the bridge was safe and his circus was in fact, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Using the pictures in the book and images from other bridges around the world, students discuss what materials bridges are made of and why learning that this “research” will be handy before they get to work building their own model bridges!

We used wood because it was strong and rigid! We used cups to lift the bridge over the gap. #bpschat

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The criteria for a successful bridge is simple: The bridge must be 45cm long and hold the load of 5 circus elephants. All groups use the same type and quantity of materials before engaging in the challenge.

Pine Glen engineers sharing the properties of their bridge! #bpschat

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More successful bridge building in Mrs. B's room! #bpschat

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Along the way, teachers assess student understanding of the thinking engineers need to do before partaking in construction projects like bridges by asking them to share their thinking about which materials they chose to use and why. Students later evaluate whether or not the bridge meets the expected “engineering solution criteria” (Was it long enough? Did it hold the animals?) before documenting their bridges and learning in their Explain Everything digital notebooks.

Successful bridge, documented with Explain Everything! #bpschat

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The Science Center is excited to see students engaging in this kind of learning being built into each and every new science unit across our K-5 schools and classrooms. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates on what new investigations and challenges our students are embarking on!

Beekeeping Presentation at Garden Club January 30, 2017

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Ms. Pavlicek was invited to do a presentation on beekeeping and the environment at the Burlington Garden Club monthly meeting yesterday.  The presentation was titled “Bee-ing Mindful of our Environment.”  She presented information about bee biology, bee social structure, basics of beekeeping, troubles bees are facing in our world, and ways we can help bees and our environment.  This included local wildflower, herbs and tree species to attract pollinators and information about the harmful chemicals we use in our lawns and gardens.

Ms. Pavlicek is a local beekeeper and brought her beekeeping supplies and materials to share with the club.  She also had her own local honey for purchase.  She also informed the club about her new fourth grade science unit on plant & pollinator structure and function.

Snake visits in Kindergarten January 26, 2017

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Mrs. Hoyt’s Kindergarten class is studying living things and what animals need to survive. They invite a variety of animals from the Science Center into their class on a rotating schedule.  Check out the photos from the latest snake visit.  Students get to ask questions, hold/touch the snake and observe a feeding in the classroom.

2016 Name the Alligator Contest Winner! December 23, 2016

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We would like to announce the winner of our “2016 Name the Alligator Contest.”  The winner is Anju Rajakumar from second grade at Fox Hill School.  She picked the name “Athena.”  Anju had her photograph taken for the front page of the Daily Times newspaper and received a goody bag of science prizes.  Congratulations and thank you to all the students who participated.


Seasonal Sunprints Holiday Experiment December 19, 2016

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The Science Center gives a holiday break experiment to every student K-5 in the Burlington Public Schools.  This year’s experiment is called “Seasonal Sunprints.”  Be sure to watch Ms. Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman’s video introducing the experiment and some exciting things you can do with your sunprints!

Seasonal Sunprints are made with photosensitive paper that changes color when exposed to sunlight. It can be used to create artistic patterns or as a tool to investigate the sun’s energy!


Sunprint directions:

  1. Pick FLAT objects you want to print. Lightweight objects can be held in place with plastic wrap.
  2. Place or pin objects on sunprint paper and keep covered until ready to expose to the sun. A dark trash bag works well for this.
  3. When ready, uncover and keep in sunlight until paper turns a very pale blue. (About 2 minutes)
  4. Remove objects and soak sunprint paper in plain water for 1 minute.
  5. Dry flat and think about the questions to the right while you wait.


Here are some questions to explore about your sun sensitive paper:

  • Why do you think a dark trash bag keeps the sunprint paper from changing until you are ready?
  • Would a light color trash bag protect the sunprint paper from changing too?
  • Sunprint paper doesn’t change under light from most light bulbs. How could sunlight be different from lightbulb light?
  • Why do you think plastic wrap can be used to hold lightweight objects in place?
  • What other materials could hold lightweight objects in place without affecting the sunprint?

The Burlington Science Center wishes you a wonderful holiday and new year full of investigations!  

                                Ms. Pavlicek, Mr. Musselman and Mrs. Hogan

We would like to thank videographer and Science Center IA, Charlotte Hogan for filming our video.

Take care of a Science Center animal for vacation… December 12, 2016

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The Science Center is looking for homes for some of its animals over winter vacation.  


  • The Science Center will provide cage, food, shavings, and care sheet for the animal.
  • CALL MS. WENDY PAVLICEK AT (781)-270-2928 if interested.  
  • Animals are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.  
  • All animals must be picked up at the Science Center (BHS) by making an

        appointment with Ms. Pavlicek.      Thank you.

BHS HelpDesk and Science Center partner to build “Augmented Reality Sandbox” December 9, 2016

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Students, Eddie Reis and Jinzhen “Hugo” Hu have been furiously working to bring a Science Center BEF grant vision to reality. As the holidays approach we checked in with these students to see how far they had come with the future Science Center crown jewel, the Augmented Reality Sandbox!

As you can see, the kinks are still being worked out and the entire project is not yet mobile, but we are confident this project will come to full fruition in the coming months as the technical and structural glitches get worked out. Eddie and Hugo also plan to add in the watershed and precipitation features to the software. The AR Sandbox will be on display and available for students to explore during the Hour of Code week scheduled for the week of December 12th.

Girl Scouts Visit the Science Center and Earn Their “Pets” Badge December 8, 2016

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The Burlington Science Center hosted the girl scouts this week to help earn their “pets” badge.  They talked about the responsibility of having a pet, what is involved in caring for a pet and had an opportunity to visit the center’s live animal room.  The center loves supporting our scouts.

Burlington High School Science Center & Animal collection featured in Newspaper November 28, 2016

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The Science Center’s animal collection was featured in the weekly newpaper!

After working with the animals in the Burlington High School Science Center, most students walk away with a greater respect for the world in general, according to director Wendy Pavlicek. Founded in 1984, the Science Center began with a small animal center, but has since expanded to house 60 types of animals, Pavlicek said. Pavlicek, who has been at the center since 2000, took over as director about five years ago. According to Pavlicek, she helped grow the center to what it is today.”[The

Source: Burlington High School Science Center houses mini-zoo

MSMS Robotics Team Wraps Up First Year, Sends “Savage 6” to State Competition November 23, 2016

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The MSMS Devilbotz have (almost) finished their introductory year to the FIRST Lego League circuit, with one of four teams moving on to the state championships next month. Twenty-seven middle school students participated in the “Animal Allies” challenge put forth by FIRST, (For Inspirtation and Recognition in Science and Technology) and LEGO to provide students the opportunity to “design, program, and construct their own intelligent inventions.”

Guided by Mr. Marino, Mrs. Lynch, and several BHS Devilbotz mentors, the students met twice a week after school (and in some cases more) to prepare for the competition. Participants were required to create and program a robot capable of completing a multitude of challenges on what can best be described as a LEGO obstacle course. Participants also were judged on the technical engineering and efficiency of their robot and its programming, how well they lived up to the core values of the FIRST Lego League program, and the communication of their research on the relationships between animals and humans.

Dueling Devilbotz! #bpschat #firstlegoleague

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With over 100 “games” played and presentations performed, the teams waited anxiously through the entire results presentation at the conclusion of the regional competition on November 19th. Their patience was rewarded when one of the four teams, “The Savage 6” earned enough points to qualify for the state competition! While only a quarter of the team’s participants are moving on everyone felt satisfied with their results and experience at the conclusion of the competition and are already eager to participate again next year.

Shark attack!

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The Burlington Science Center would like to thank Mrs. Jane Lynch and Mr. Jourdan Marino again for their service to the team and Mr. John Carroll and Miss Elizabeth Normandin for volunteering their time over the weekend as well to help manage the teams during the competition day. We are excited to continue to grow the robotics program throughout all of the Burlington schools!

Pig practice! #bpschat #firstlegoleague

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