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Robotics Summer Camp: A Great Success! August 4, 2015

Posted by MrMusselman in Science Center, Student Work.
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Dr. Conti stopped by to see some of our awesome prospecting robots in action! #bpschat

A photo posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on

For the second year in a row the Burlington Science Center has conducted a summer robotics programs through Burlington’s annual summer school programs. Incoming fourth and fifth grade students of roughly equal amounts attended, some with previous robotics experience but many with none at all! To help guide our “roboteers” on their journey a number of high school and middle school volunteers were enlisted to support the camp’s efforts. Perennial summer science teachers, Christine Sheppard and Elana Snyder were also back to assist with much of the logistics and to learn more about the basics behind robots for themselves! The theme of the camp was to construct a robot that could undertake several different kinds of challenges on the mysterious exo-planet, “Taboor-3.” In several cases the goals for our robots could be seen in some of the jobs of NASA’s own Spirit and Opportunity robots on Mars. Students were introduced to the idea that robots have historically been designed to perform tasks that fit under at least one of the 3Ds: “Dull, Dirty, and Dangerous.”

Morning Robotics Club meeting where students are captivated by video from recent FIRST Challenge.

A photo posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 23, 2015 at 5:25am PDT

The first two days presented steep learning curve’s as students navigated their way around the LEGO Mindstorms programming software and learned how to use and manipulate the block code system to get the robot to do what they wanted it to. Students recognized the importance to detail in programming as small differences in code or robot wiring inevitably had dramatic impacts on robot behavior in their field tests. By the middle of the first week though students were able to start putting together some impressive bots capable of meeting robust challenges initially many considered to be unobtainable. Using the sensors on the Lego EV3 sets students were able to automate robot behavior, developing “Roomba-like robots” that traversed the oddly shaped foire of the MSMS 2nd floor without bumping into walls or falling down stairs.

These ladies are doing a great job completing their roomba challenge! Anusha from @bhsrobotix has been a big help! #OMGrobots A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 23, 2015 at 8:04am PDT

Robotics Camp: To the edge and back! Yikes!!! #bpschat

A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 27, 2015 at 9:56am PDT

Later students added light sensors capable of detecting “valuable green minerals” on the floor and alerting robot operators by sending alert signals to their users.

  A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 27, 2015 at 6:13am PDT

Students learned the basics behind binary code, learning how to right their name through a series of on/off switches. Once this skill was mastered a guest engineer (Mr. Snyder!) joined us to talk about his work with semiconductors (the switch systems of robots) in wearable technology like Fitbits and Apple watches. He was even kind enough to bring in a prototype to explore along with several other circuit boards.

Engineer Steve sharing our robotics club how a gyroscope and accelerometer work in real time. #askascientist A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 28, 2015 at 5:37am PDT

  Examining circuit boards and a wearable prototype!   A photo posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 28, 2015 at 5:50am PDT

In the final two days students were given the choice to participate in one of three “MEGA Challenges.” Some students chose to participate in the “Mini-Golf challenge” where robots were designed to automate the striking and/or dropping of a marble placed in various different positions to simulate “tees” onto a small target (the hole) for points.

Surprise twist on this golf shot! A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 30, 2015 at 9:18am PDT

Other students selected the “Butler-Bot challenge,” a technically difficult scenario where students were asked to build a robot that would travel from a “bedroom to kitchen” and use some sort of capture device to pick up a bottle of water and return it to the bedroom.

  Mission accomplished! So impressive!!!   A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 30, 2015 at 9:38am PDT

The third and final challenge rested more on student ability to collaborate and work together to construct a robotic “dance team.” In this scenario, students had to first select and choreograph a dance before coding the robot to get them to dance synchronously with one another.

Getting closer! A video posted by Burlington Science Center (@burlingtonsciencecenter) on Jul 30, 2015 at 8:04am PDT

As you can see, not all challenges were fully accomplished… But that’s ok! From day 1 students were reminded that failure is a big part of the design process, and that we learn and grow the most by paying attention to our failures and finding ways to improve on them. By camp’s end we could see that this message had been fully understood as all of our students left with smiles and a sense of pride and accomplishment, no matter what the final results of their robots!

Tidepool Field Trips! August 1, 2015

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The Science Center runs first grade field trip for all 16 elementary classrooms in Burlington.  The field trips take place at low tide in late May/early June in Marblehead MA.  Students learn about the tides, what causes the tides to happen and participate in a human model of the earth & moon in our solar system.  We then introduce the students to pictures and information about local algae and animal life within the tide pool.  The students, teachers and parent volunteers follow us into the tide pool for collection.  After collecting algae and animals, students then proceed to make observations about their collection items.  Some highlights are sponges, baby lobsters, giant kelp, sea robin fish and sea stars.













Science Center Senior Send Off & End of Year Aides Celebration! June 3, 2015

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The Science Center held its annual celebration to honor the high school volunteers who help take care of the animals during the school year.  We celebrated and heard stories of best and worst experiences with the animals at the center.  We also honored our seniors with gifts and good tidings.

Science Center Aides with their favorite animals

Science Center Aides with their favorite animals

aides party

Life lesson from the Science Center written by the students

Life lesson from the Science Center written by the students

Our seniors! We will miss them and wish them well!


Jimmy Welch with our boa constrictor



Gina with our young owlet


Kylie with Oscar the guinea pig


Eric with salamanders


The Scientists Behind Science Education: Our Teachers! May 28, 2015

Posted by MrMusselman in Student Work.
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Teachers are well known to be life-long learners, so it should be no surprise that a number of teachers in the Burlington schools are working with organizations like the Museum of Science to improve their practice and the state of science education as a whole! At Fox Hill, Mrs. Jaffe and Mrs. Snyder have been participating in an experiment being conducted by the Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary division. Over the past two years their classrooms have acted as “guinea pigs” using materials and curriculum provided by the MOS for one of their science units. In Mrs. Snyder’s class students have been studying structural engineering as a part of their Rock & Minerals unit while Mrs. Jaffe’s classes have been acting as electrical engineers as a part of their Electricity unit.

In both cases the teachers have been collecting pre and post curriculum data on student understanding and sending their results to the MOS to be more carefully analyzed for the effectiveness of their units. The real-life science experiment has been a win-win, as Mrs. Jaffe and Mrs. Snyder have both enjoyed modifying their curriculums to include the application of the engineering design process.

The Science Center is proud to support these teachers with the extra preparation needed for some of the engineering activities. We have also been watching with earnest at the wonderful work students have been doing and hope to include units and lessons like these in our coming curriculum changes over the next few years. More details to come on that!

Burlington Reservoir Habitats 3rd Grade Field Trip May 28, 2015

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Every year the Science Center takes the 3rd grade classes in Burlington to the Mill Pond Reservoir for a field trip focusing on habitats.  This year we decided to include more student involvement with the field trip.  Each group of students visited 3 different habitats (forest, field & vernal pool) and collected data about each one.  Data included date, time, air & water temperature, soil temperature, soil sampling, weather and a labeled sketch of the habitat.  Each student had a different “scientists role” in collecting the data at each stop.  Students and teachers compared and contrasted the habitat data after the field trips back in their classrooms.

The Science center brought several live animals to show examples of the living things at each habitat.  Students also found owl pellets, observed animals from the vernal pool and learned how to identify the common wintergreen plant.

magnify field happy data sheet cricket IMG_8941 IMG_8971 IMG_8970 IMG_8952 IMG_9013

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soil smaple




Support the BEF at “Exercise for Education” this weekend! May 26, 2015

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community.
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On Sunday, May 31, 2025, the Burlington Education Foundation (BEF) is holding their 11th Annual “Exercise for Education” 5K Road Race and ½ Mile Family Fun Run at Burlington High School .  Check-in for the event begins at 8:00am with the Family Fun Run beginning at 9:00am, followed by the start of the 5k which begins promptly at 9:30am.

Please visit BEF’s website for more information on the activities as well as online registration. All pre-registered participants are guaranteed a free t-shirt. NEW This Year – Chip Timing! – with instant results.

Run, Walk, Volunteer or join us as a spectator! Don’t miss out on this great community event or the chance to win a Grand Prize Raffle!!

BEF’s Mission is to channel donations from businesses and individuals to provide Burlington educators with an additional source of funding for creative and innovative curriculum enrichment programs.  The BEF has supported the Science Center in many ways over the years, funding our StarLab, Burlington Weather Station, and recently received Infrared Camera!

MaryAnn Bernstein Accepts Exemplary Science Teacher Award! May 20, 2015

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Third grade teacher, MaryAnn Bernstein of Fox Hill Elementary School was honored by the Science Center and the North Shore Science Supervisors Association (NSSSA) with the “Exemplary Science Teaching Award.”  This award was presented during the NSSSA’s end of year banquet at the Danversport Yacht Club.  The Burlington Science Center is a member of the NSSSA and nominated MaryAnn for her outstanding hard work and attention to the sciences as a classroom teacher. We are so proud of her!  The Science Center appreciates her passion for teaching and her dedication to the students of Burlington Public Schools! It is our goal to nominate and honor more of the amazing teachers from all the Burlington schools in future years.


Name the Rabbit Contest Winner! May 12, 2015

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We got a knock on our door a few months ago from the town animal police officer.  A car had been abandoned at the Burlington Mall for 5-6 days.  The police eventually searched the vehicle to find 2 small young rabbits.  These rabbits were in a tiny box with no food or water.


We gave the rabbits immediate attention and nursed them back to health.  The first rabbit went to a local rescue organization and the Science Center decided to keep the second rabbit.  We decided to hold a 4th grade contest to name the new rabbit.

The winner is Seema Risman from Mrs. Finn’s room at Pine Glen School!  Seema received an award and prize from the Science Center.  She also had her picture taken for the front page of the newspaper.  Great job!




Thank you to all the students who participated.

Animal Presentations with Mrs. Wood’s Class May 7, 2015

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Mrs. Wood’s 4th grade class at Fox Hill School completed a collaborative project to research and present information about specific animals from the Science Center.  The Science Center brought the animals to the classroom and each group of students were able to interact with their chosen animal while they presented their information.  It was a great project and fun was had by all!  We learned a lot about the animals they chose.








Summer Robotics “Gearing Up” – Register Now! April 14, 2015

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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IMG_4521 IMG_4523IMG_4518

Students entering grades 4 and 5 for the 2015/2016 school year may participate in this new program spun from the popular “Robotics Clubs” that are being run for the first time in several of our elementary schools this year. Students will primarily learn how to construct and program robots constructed from the LEGO robotics EV3 kits and complete challenges that will explore the basics behind robot design and programming. Along the way students will also have an opportunity to meet professionals in STEM careers volunteering their time to introduce important ideas around robotics design and may also discuss simple ethical dilemmas faced by inventors using robots not previously used.

Burlington is offering its students the opportunity to attend a two-week session (Monday through Thursday). Tuition is $250. To register for this camp complete the following registration and emergency form and send to Rosemary Desousa at 123 Cambridge Street, Burlington.

Dates: July 20, 2015 – July 30, 2015, (8 five-hour weekday sessions)

Time: 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Place: Memorial Elementary School

Transportation to and from camp: Arranged by parents


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