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Grow Local Event! February 23, 2015

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        Locally Grown Food Builds Community:A New England Food Vision

You are invited to learn about sustainable living, composting, the community garden and a Burlington Farmer’s Market to begin this spring.

grow local

Please join The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation and The Burlington Food Pantry on Monday, March 2, 2015 from 6:30PM to 8:30PM in the Hall at the Grand View Farm, 55 Center Street, Burlington.  This event is free!








The formal program begins at 7:00PM with a presentation on ‘A New England Food Vision’ by our Keynote Speaker, Brian Donahue, Ph.D., Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies, Brandeis University.  Dr. Donahue will discuss the 50 x 60 Vision – a concept establishing a goal that fifty percent of New England’s food can be grown and distributed locally by the year 2060.

Following his presentation, Dr. Donahue will be joined by panelists speaking on behalf of local CSAs and Farmer’s Markets, including those organizing a Farmer’s Market to begin this spring in Burlington.

For further information, please call the Chamber’s office at 781-273-2523.  The Science Center will be hosting an information table at the event.  Hope to see you there!


Winter Tracks and Footprints! February 13, 2015

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Winter is the perfect season for observing animal tracks and scat in your backyard. The shape and pattern of the animal track are important when deciding what creatures are venturing outside in the woods or your backyard. I went on a hike last weekend and took a few photos of common Massachusetts animal tracks. Do you recongnize any of these tracks from your backyard?


This is a classic cottontail rabbit.  This rabbit is running/facing toward the bottom of your screen.  You will see two larger back feet and 2 smaller front feet, one in front of the other.


This is also a cottontail rabbit, except it is sitting in one place.  Note the round pellet (feces) between the back legs and the front feet are on top.


This is a white-tailed deer hoof print.  You can see the two separate hoof/toe prints.


This is a set of squirrel tracks.  They look similar to a butterfly shape.  There are 2 larger back feet and 2 snaller front feet-both feet are close together.


Another set of squirrel prints.



The pictures above are squirrel “digs.”  They are areas where the squirrels have buried their seeds and then proceeded to retrieve them from the snow to eat.


These are song bird tracks.  Note the two, side-by-side feet and the long drag mark of the bird’s tail.


These prints are most likely from a fox.  The length of the stride (area between the two feet) and the size of the individual print are important from determining fox or coyote.

What other prints have you seen in your yard or out in nature? If you take the time to look closely and observe the world, you can find the most interesting things around you!  Get outside and look today!

Snowday Science! January 26, 2015

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The chicks were supposed to hatch on Tuesday and Wednesday in the first and fourth grade classrooms at the Francis Wyman and Pine Glen schools.  Due to the blizzard, we decided to keep the eggs in the Science Center and students were able to watch the chicks hatch from home via our live web cam.  The chicks have now been moved to the brooder box (their home) and are growing as we speak.

Hope you enjoyed watching our live chick hatching! We hope to post more live web cam broadcasts in the future!


How many inches of water does it take to make a foot of snow? The answer might surprise you!

Make a prediction, then watch Mr. Musselman’s “Blizzard Science” video posted below and perform the experiment for yourself!

You can use our step by step directions or design a similar experiment for yourself. Whatever your results, be sure to write them down so you can compare them with Mr. Musselman’s results or a friend’s!

Investigating Light and Sound at Francis Wyman January 20, 2015

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Before holiday break, all the first graders at Francis Wyman were busy investigating light and sound energy.

All along Ms. Farmer was good enough to take photographs of the students experiments, observations, data records, and science diagrams. Thank you so much Ms. Farmer! Her blog with all of her unit photos can be found here.

There was lots of fascinating science phenomena on hand as students explored how sound waves traveled through different types of matter and observed how objects of different shapes and sizes created different sounds.

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While exploring light, students used special glasses to decode hidden messages in the scramble of letters. This led students to realize that some light flows through objects better than others, which led us to experiment with even more materials to determine which ones blocked light, bounced light, or allow light to pass through the best.

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Burlington Science Center Exhibit: Patterns in Nature! January 12, 2015

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In science classes, teachers often focus on specific content areas to drive their science curriculum. Topics such as Light & Sound, Rocks & Minerals, or Animals and their Habitats are particularly popular with students. But there are also science concepts that cut across all science disciplines. This year the Science Center decided to showcase one such concept through their bi-annual touring exhibit: Patterns in Nature.

Younger students are first can find patterns in their everyday lives by observing the natural world around them. As they grow older, students can use patterns to sort and classify objects in their world. They can begin to use patterns to make thoughtful predictions about scientific phenomena. Students even come to use patterns as evidence to support scientific explanations about the world they observe around them.

Our patterns exhibit explores several natural phenomena and the patterns they exhibit.  This charges students to think critically about what the patterns can tell us about the world around us and what they suggest may be to come in the future! Several stations illustrate patterns we can see clearly (such as stripes that help tigers hide in the grasslands) while others reveal patterns that may not be visible without careful data collection for a year (seasons and constellations) or thousands of years (earthquake locations) at a time!

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Check out all the different stations we offer in this exhibit by exploring the pictures below, or come see the exhibit for yourself when it visits your child’s school! The exhibit is currently on display for two weeks at the Memorial School. It will then travel to Pine Glen, Fox Hill, and the Francis Wyman where it will also be on display for two weeks at a time.

As always we love to hear your feedback. Please let us know what you think about our exhibit by email or through the comments section below!

2014 Name the Alligator Contest Winner December 19, 2014

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We would like to announce the winner of our “2014 Name the Alligator Contest.”  The winner is Rania Ahmed from second grade at Pine Glen School.  She picked the name “Snaperella.”  Rania had her photograph taken for the front page of the Daily Times newpspaer and will receive a goody bag of science prizes.  Congratulations and thank you to all the students who participated.




Art Renditions of Skeletons from Mrs. Chang’s Art Classes at BHS December 3, 2014

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The Science Center loans out materials to all grade levels to enrich the curriculum here in Burlington.  Some great examples are these renditions of our human skeleton models from Mrs. Chang’s Art Classes at Burlington High School.  Congrats to the art students and Mrs. Chang for their outstanding work.







Thanks to Mrs. Chang for sharing these great pieces!


Science Center Animal Anarchy? Fox Hill Fifth Graders to the Rescue! November 26, 2014

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Last month Mr. Musselman visited the Fox Hill fifth graders to beg for their help. Total anarchy had swept the Science Center after our mischievous had escaped and ruined many of their homes. With students recently wrapping up a unit on animal characteristics and classification, there was no better group of students to put their knowledge and talents together to engineer new shelters for the Science Center animals.

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After a review of the engineering design process, students were given the opportunity to select a science center animal to design and build a new critter cage for. Students had to first review what they knew about the creature and do additional resource to have a better understanding of the types of conditions the animal preferred. Students then got to designing elements of a model enclosure that would provide the basic necessities for their selected critter. Ultimately, every group made sure the food, water, shelter, and enclosure conditions for exercise and comfort would be met.


On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the model enclosures were on display for fellow classmates, third graders (studying habitats over the year), and Mr. Musselman were on hand to witness the fabulous work students had done while taking in presentations performed by the enclosure engineers.

Special thanks to Mr. Norman and Mrs. Jaffe for their excellent work with the students through the entire design process and the great evidence of work documented throughout. Mrs. Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman will surely be using some of these designs in future animal enclosures at the Science Center!

Eagle Scout builds Owl Nest Boxes for Elementary Schools November 20, 2014

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The Science Center would like to recongnize Chris Oakes for recently completing his eagle scout project.  His project included designing, building and installing owl nest boxes at each of the 4 elementary schools.  Each school has two boxes located in different areas of the school.

Chris Box cropped

Eagle Scout Chris Oakes




Owl Nest House Building




Completed Owl Nest Boxes with Community Help



Installing the Tree Anchors



Attaching the Nest Box



Hanging the Nest Boxes at Fox Hill School



Adding Nest Material



Securing the Nest Box


PIX OCT 2014 159

Final Adjustments


PIX OCT 2014 181


We are very proud of Chris and want to thank him and the other volunteers for their hard work and dedication.  We hope to check the boxes this winter.

Tree Walks with Ipads November 18, 2014

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With being a 1:1 school district in Burlington (K-12), I wanted to incorporate the use of Ipads into some of my life science lessons while also helping teachers to implement using the Ipads during Science.  At the end of the second grade unit on trees, teachers have asked me to take their classes outside on a tree walk.  The students had an opportunity to meet and identify the most comon type of trees they find in their backyards and school grounds.  The walk was based on the idea of a “scientist” (me) taking the students on a verbal tour of the trees in their schoolyard.  This tour included a review of tree parts and functions, how we identify different trees and a closer look at each of the trees leaves, seeds and bark.  I wanted to change the tree walk experience in a way that had greater student involvment, while still connecting to their prior learning.  I saw this as a potential way to help teachers and students journal and collect data outside of their classrooms and in the real world.  It would also give students practice on usig the Ipad as a tool for taking pictures, editing information and producing a product of their own.


Massachusetts is on its way to adopting new science standards, which are based off the national science standards (NGSS).  These standards have greater emphasis on scietific practices balanced with specific core science ideas.  The goal is to have students use their application of knowledge to deomstrate scientific skills and understanding.  The tree book design and development focuses on obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information about trees.

The objectives of this lesson were to have students be able to identify 3 common tree species and their parts, including their leaves, bark and seeds and how they were different.  I wanted students to extend their classroom learning to the outdoors.  I decided the end result was to have the students design and create their own tree guide booklet using Book Creator on their Ipad.


During the first class students are introduced to the names of the 3 species of trees.  There are examples of a leaf and seed from each of the tree species.  Students then sketched each leaf and seed with approriate labels.  This gave the student an idea of what each tree’s leaves and seeds looked like.




Then I took each class outside for their tree walk to make their tree field guides.  Each student had to take pictures of the whole tree from top to bottom,  a picture of its leaf, seed and bark.  Then it was repeated for the other two types of trees.





The photos were then used to make their tree field guides in the next 1-2 class periods.  The classroom teachers collaborated wth the technology support staff in each school to help students design their tree books.

Students then shared their tree books during an additional class period.  The tree books included diagrams of the tree and its parts, 3 species of common trees in their school yard (with their own pictures of leaf, seed and bark) and some knowledge or facts they learned that they did not know before the tree unit was taught.  Students shared their tree books and their findings through oral presenations with their classmates.






From my experience, I found students were excited about creating their own tree book.  They kept asking if they could take pictures of other trees and wanted to identify them.  They enjoyed being outdoors and taking photographs of objects they were studying.   I found they were able to identify the tree speies from their previous experience with the sketching of the tree items in the prior class.


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