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Sharing Resources and Experiences with “Computerless Coding” at #EarlyEdCon October 15, 2018

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Over the weekend Mr. Musselman shared his experiences and resources with a dozen early childhood educators around developing computational thinking for our youngest learners. His workshop, “Computerless Coding with Young Learners” featured a brief overview around what state and national frameworks say about computational thinking and computer science standards K-12 learning strands before giving educators and opportunity to explore a number of devices the Burlington Public Schools currently have and use at their schools.

PreK and Kindergarten teachers from Burlington to Bourne attended and had the opportunity to explore four different devices, Code and Go Mouse, Cubetto, KIBO, and the junior of them all, the Codepillar!

Teachers appreciated the opportunity to play-test and develop their own understanding of constructing and running “algorithms” using a variety of visual representations each device uses. Many rejoiced when ambitious challenges were completed and everyone felt like they experienced an authentic early childhood learning model, learning by playing!

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2018 Pumpkin Contest winners! October 9, 2018

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We would like to announce our winners of the 2018 Pumpkin Growing Contest. And the winners are……
1st place is AJ DiRocco from Memorial School with 116 lbs!!!!
AJ DiRocco 1st place
2nd place is Shayla Kocur from Pine Glen with 87.5 lbs.
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3rd place is Sara Milne from Memorial School with 75 lbs. 
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4th place is Branin Weymouth from Francis Wyman with 68 lbs.
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5th place is Emily Milne from Memorial with 63 lbs.

 

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Congratulations and we are very proud of you all!

All growers who participate in the contest will receive an “honorable gardener”  certificate and goody bag of prizes.  Look for their photos in the lobby of each elementary school this month.

Students learn about the life cycle of plants, gain understanding of how temperature, weather, insects, and other animals affect the growth of the plant and they learn about how pollination needs to occur for the plant to reproduce. 
Gardening connects students physically and mentally to the Earth and nature…it helps them to learn and take part of the process in where their food comes from.

One of the greatest things about these contests is the connection between the younger generations and the older generations. Lots of students grow their plants with their family or grandparents. I hear stories of students walking to their grandparents house every day or the special moments with “Papa Charlie” or “Nana” while tending to their plants. Gardening connects students and humans to the Earth and nature.

FIRST Lego League Junior Update: October 2018 October 2, 2018

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It has been a BUSY start to the school year here at the Science Center gearing up and registering our six MSMS FLL Robotics teams and its 50+ participants. That said, some preliminary groundwork has been put into place for a really big FLL Junior year too!

As coordinator of the program, Mr. Musselman has tentatively scheduled a Community-wide “Mission Moon Expo” at Burlington High School on the morning of Saturday, April 27th. Details have not yet been paved out, but it may be a morning you want to mark on your calendar. Because this event will not be an official FLL Jr sponsored event, we are not planning on sending any teams to a “national” event as the video linked above suggests happens sometimes. We will be making our event public on the chance that if other teams from nearby communities wish to participate, they will be able to do so. At this time we expect this event to be free to all Burlington teams.

Interest from teachers has been strong, with volunteers tentatively agreeing to run after-school programs at all four elementary schools. It is important to note here that the teachers running after school programs will be the ones choosing the dates, times, and age range of kids that will have an opportunity to register first. The FIRST organization recommends teams of four students, with teams of two adults or more managing multiple teams at once. It is reasonable to assume that a pair of teachers might manage a room of 4 or 5 teams made up of 18-20 students.

We want to provide every student and family interested in this program an opportunity to participate, but we also recognize it is possible that demand may exceed the capacity of our faculty at any given school. To accommodate this and the reality that teacher selected dates and times may not match your own, we are aiming to support community members who agree to facilitate a team with a Science Center loaned WeDO 2.0 kit and this year’s FLL Junior program materials. We will aim to provide space at one of the four elementary schools whenever possible or let families participating on such teams to work together to find locations that work for them. Appropriate safety clearances will need to be met by at least two adults coaching the team or teams.

Despite all of these good intentions, it is possible that not every student will manage to find their way on to a team. We hope that community members will recognize the very rapid organization and scaling up of this program will inevitably run into some growing pains. If you want to support the facilitation of this program (regardless of experience!) as either a team coach / assistant coach, or a volunteer at the planned expo, please reach out to Mr. Musselman via email so that he may add you to a growing list of supportive community members. In addition to running this program between the months of January – April it is Mr. Musselman’s hope that a summer program session modeling this experience (with concluding family expo) might be facilitated in July 2019 as well. More to come on that!

We will aim to continue posting updates on the Science Center blog, but have also created an email listserv that will send out regular updates. The listserv will announce publications to the blog as well as requests for resources and announcements regarding opportunities of interest to the growing FLL Junior community. To be a part of this email list moderated by Mr. Musselman visit https://groups.google.com/d/forum/flljr-burlington (no spam we promise!) Those of you who have already expressed interest to be kept up to date will be invited to join this group via email in the near future.

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Camp Eagle Constructs Harmless Holders September 18, 2018

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Camp Eagle students got a bit of the Bournedale experience last week with help from Mrs. Warford and Mr. Musselman. An engineering challenge awaited them Friday morning as students constructed “harmless holders” in an effort to improve on the widely used (with unpleasant natural side effects) plastic ring can carriers.

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Planning our Harmless Holders

Students started by examining the alternative materials available and researched the average decomposition rate of each material in the ocean, generating two-column note charts as they researched before regrouping to share what they learned, documenting their new information on the class white board.

Students then got to work planning their designs, sharing with classmates, and teaming up when design interests intersected. Students got to use some less common tools for classroom construction and Some designs required some revising as students started constructing prototypes, but many creative solutions carried the day!

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Calling all Pumpkins! Entries & Photos September 10, 2018

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Did you participate in the Science Center pumpkin growing contest this summer? The pumpkin cut-off “weigh date” will be Friday, September 28th.  All entries must be turned into the Science Center by Friday, October 5, 2018.  Please include a photo of your pumpkin! You can get the entry form and information here. Entries can be emailed to pavlicek@bpsk12.org or dropped off in person from 7:30-3:00.

We will host a group picture with all the pumpkins on the Burlington Town Commons on Wednesday October 3rd at 3:30. Bring your pumpkin!

 

Science Center Newsletter 18-19 September 6, 2018

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Welcome back! Hope you have a great school year!

First Lego League Junior Update: September 2018 August 23, 2018

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Recently it was brought to the attention of Mr. Musselman that interest has been brewing in having after school programs and opportunities for elementary students around the First Lego League Junior program for students in grades K-5. Last year a call to teachers at all of the elementary schools was put out about possible facilitation of such a program in the fall/winter months of this academic calendar and a handful of teachers expressed interest at each school. It is important to note that none of these teachers to date have committed to facilitating any after school program nor they indicated times for when, which grades, and how many students might be able to participate in such an after school club.

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That said, the Science Center is exploring options for how to best facilitate FLL programs across the district in a variety of ways. This includes supporting teams facilitated by parent and community volunteers outside of the school’s hours and/or facilities. Such support might include loaning of Science Center LEGO WeDO Kits to teams constructed of BPS students, registration for events and/or the hosting of our own FLL Junior Expo sometime in the winter months of 2019.

In any and all forms FLL Junior takes, parent involvement and communication is important for putting together and facilitating a successful FLL Junior team. For this reason Mr. Musselman has put together a simple Google Form in which any parents or other community members and stakeholders might express their interest in being involved with the program. This includes everything from having their children involved in the program, to mentoring or co/mentoring a team, to sponsoring a team or expo.

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If you are unsure about whether or not you want or are able to support an FLL Junior team, consider exploring the resources posted on the FLL Junior website. This includes information about this year’s challenge: MISSION MOON, FLL Volunteer Role Descriptions, Session videos which give overviews of how FLL Junior sessions operate and more.

Mr. Musselman is optimistic about getting FLL Junior up and running this year but will not be able to do it without the support of Burlington community members. If you are interested in having your child participate in a FLL Junior program please make it a family affair and share your interest in the form linked above and here. Mr. Musselman will reach out to all those who express interest sometime in mid-September after the immediate back-to-school tide has ebbed.

Thank you to all of you who have already expressed enthusiasm for the FLL Junior program and the many other programs and offerings the Burlington Science Center and teachers have provided over the years. This year’s summer program saw a doubling in enrollment from the previous year, in part due to the introduction of a younger age program, but also due to the enthusiasm of our students and their families for such programs.

 

Summer of “FIRST”s for Robotics Summer Programs July 22, 2018

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2018 brought several firsts to the Burlington Public School annual robotics summer programs, directed by Burlington Science Specialist, Mr. Musselman. New students, new teachers, new kits, and a whole new set of challenges meant to build student capacity around computer science skills, physical robotic machinations, and most importantly, teamwork!

Over 80 students ranging from ages 8-12 participated in two different programs built on the core values of the For Innovation and Recognition of Science and Technology or “FIRST” organization: Discovery, Innovation, Inclusion, Team Work and Fun. For all participants that meant morning meetings and energizers centered on working together.

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Core values challenge! Can we flip the sheet without anyone falling off? #bpschat

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Incoming second and third-graders participated in a program using new, “We-DO” LEGO 2.0 kits, featuring programming and design challenges that encouraged students to develop robots that were able to perform tasks such as grabbing, pushing, seek and find, and signaling communications. Facilitated by Mrs. Anderson and Ms. Scheffer these students followed a program of design, improve and share, coming together each day to highlight successes and failures they learned from.

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More rad racers from yesterday in @jlscheffer’s robotics classroom. #bpschat

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These students also used new, “Code and Go” mice designed to develop student spatial awareness and understanding of how algorithms control devices to perform specific tasks and challenges.

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Code and Go challenge at Robotics Camp #bpschat

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More code and go challenges

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Incoming fourth through sixth-graders participated in a “FIRST LEGO League Bootcamp,” a program mirrored off of the global competition that includes dimensions of research, robotics, and team cohesiveness. Using last year’s “Hydrodynamics” challenges and obstacles, these students developed solutions to these challenges using the EV3s while learning about water and the global issues surrounding fresh water scarcity and the technical challenges behind cleaning and filtering water.

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Pieris’ robot pulls through with seconds to spare!

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Now it’s Mrs Sheppard’s classes turn to filter!

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When all was said and done, the program had doubled in size from previous years and students were making impressive gains on challenges not seen in previous years. Much of this can be attributed to our fabulous staff and volunteers from the MSMS Devilbotz team. The Science Center would like to thank Mrs. Anderson, Ms. Scheffer, Mrs. Sheppard, Mrs. Snyder, Mrs. Visocchi, and Mrs. Lynch for their support over the course of the two week program and especially our MSMS Devilbotz. Thank you for your continued support!

Fox Hill First-Grader Wins Telescope in “Sky Observation” Challenge June 1, 2018

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Mr. Musselman, Elise Hom, and her brand new Vivitar 50x/100x refractor telescope!

First-grader, Elise Hom was presented with her very own Vivitar refractor telescope yesterday during the K/1 lunch period at Fox Hill School. Between March and April, first graders from all over Burlington participated in the “Observe your Sky” challenge. These sky scientists observed and recorded whether or not the sun was still present in the sky when they went to bed and when they woke up in the morning. Students who recorded observations for a month submitted their data tables to the Science Center, which were then entered into a raffle. Elise’s name was picked and is the first winner of what will become an annual competition!

The Burlington Science Center would like to thank Northern Bank for their generous donation of the telescopes and the seventy-plus students representing all four elementary schools who participated. While these students may not have won the telescope they did collect data like real scientists and uncover the changing amounts of daylight hours during the spring season!

 

Science Center Aides Celebration May 29, 2018

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The students of Burlington High School can volunteer their time during a study period to work at the Science Center throughout the school year.  They work with a variety of animals including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, fish and other invertebrates.  Each year we celebrate their hard work and dedication to the Science Center.

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Student work in the center includes the handling of live animals, maintenance and care of animal living spaces, diet preparation, assistance with school programs, and the packaging of Science Center classroom materials.

Students often view their experience as a place to connect with animals, gain experience in an area they are considering for college/career and share a common respect with other peers who work with live creatures.  We appreciate all their hard work and dedication.

We also honored our seniors. We wish them well in their future endeavors!