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Up in the Clouds with Mrs. Hoyt’s Kindergarteners November 19, 2015

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Kindergarteners offer answers as to why predicting the weather is so important.

On Tuesday Mr. Musselman visited Pine Glen Kindergarteners in Mrs Hoyt’s class to take part in her “Everybody Reads” series! He brought along one of his favorite books as a child, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judy Barrett. Mr. Musselman tied in the imaginative story of wild weather in the land of Chewandswallow with students own “Weather Wednesday” investigations. The class discussed why it was so important for the people of Chewandswallow to predict (make a thoughtful guess in Kindergarten speak!) what the weather would be like and how they would prepare for the weather each day.


cumulonimbus cloud can bring heavy rains, wind, and even lightning!

As a follow up, Mr. Musselman came in again on Weather Wednesday to share with students how clouds can be used to predict the weather. Students examined different kinds of clouds and shared what kinds of weather they would have to prepare if they saw these clouds outside their window. Mr. Musselman wrapped up the presentation by showing students how to make their own cloud, stopping at each ingredient to give students time to think about where on Earth they would find heat, water, and cold air to construct the much larger clouds in the sky!


Our cloud is so thick we can’t see through it! Warm water, cold air, and a little dust and smoke was all it took!



Our classroom cloud even came with its own rain! It’s “stuck” to the bottom of the cold pie pan but could fall on us at any second… watch out!

Daisy Scouts earn their “Use Resources Wisely” petal via the Science Center November 12, 2015

Posted by bsciencecenter in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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A group of daisy scouts visited the Science Center and worked toward their “use resources wisely” petal.  We talked about examples of animal/plant species in Burlington and how they are all affected by our changing environment. We discussed what living things need to survive and listed how our environment provides these resources for the living things.  The Scouts then brainstormed ways humans can help with keeping resources clean and safe for the future.  The girls discussed pollution, trash/litter and reducing water use.


The meeting ended with a tour of the Science Center animal room, where the scouts further asked questions about the animals and certain resources available to them.

IMG_7964 IMG_7962 IMG_7960 IMG_7953 IMG_7954

The Science Center is happy to support the Scouts and Daisy Troops in Burlington.


Francis Wyman Science Night 2015 October 25, 2015

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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Taking a look at the moon and its craters through our reflective telescope! #sciencenight

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

With a first quarter moon peeking out through the scattered clouds, Science Center staff and volunteers welcomed students and their families to Science Night inside the Francis Wyman gymnasium. The Science Night proved to be the best yet, with several takeaways including oobleck, straw rockets, and “sound sandwiches” as well as guided tours of the StarLab and our moon’s surface with the Science Center’s large reflection telescope!

We think the mystery matter is a liquid! #sciencenight

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

Playing a sound sandwich tune! #sciencenight

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

Students also explored the spectrum of invisible, “infrared light” with the help of the Science Center’s new infrared camera! Many students danced and played, watching their colorful outlines projected on the gymnasium wall while Cambridge College graduate students presented heat energy experiments to them through the use of ice cubes and students’ own insulating jackets!

Explaining infrared light to a first grader… #sciencenight

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

As always Miss Pavlicek and her incredible cadre of Science Center volunteers were sharing fascinating nocturnal animals with those willing to get up close in the live animal exhibit! BHSRobotix team members were also on hand to share the features of the Lego Mindstorms kits available on loan to Burlington students during the fall and winter through the Science Center.

Miss P sharing her new bard owl, Scout! #sciencenight

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

Our science center volunteers are the best when it comes to sharing their knowledge of animals! #sciencenight

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

Francis Wyman’s Science Night was proudly sponsored by the Francis Wyman PTO and marks the fourth Science Night hosted by the Burlington Science Center. All four Burlington elementary schools have now hosted a Science Night to rave reviews. Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman intend to start the cycle again and return to Pine Glen next year!

Close encounters with this flying object! #sciencenight

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

Name the Owl Contest Winner! October 21, 2015

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We would like to announce the winner of the Science Center’s “Name the Owl Contest.”And the winner is………

Shea McDonald from Mr. Stead’s room at Francis Wyman School with the name “Scout!”


The Science Center awarded Shea with a framed certificate and science prizes.  We also had the photographer from the Daily Times newspaper take her picture for the front page.

owl n me

Scout is an Eastern Barred Owl.  He was illegally taken from a nest and raised by a human for 4 weeks.  Scout was injured and then taken to Tufts Wildlife Clinic for treatment.  The owl was confiscated and re-nested with an owl foster family.  Scout was too afraid of his foster parents and siblings.  He was not eating from the parent owls.  Scout is what we call “imprinted.”  He became accustomed to being cared for by human beings and would not survive on his own in the wild.

Scout lives in an outdoor enclosure at the Burlington High School in front of the cafeteria.  Be sure to visit him!

Thank you to all the 4th graders who participated in the contest!

Science Center Visit Burlington’s Farmer Market October 16, 2015

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The Science Center visited the Burlington Farmer’s Market with some of their amazing education animals.  Science Center high school aides Michael, Ali and Caitlyn volunteered their time to speak with the residents about the animals.  The market director asked the Science Center to bring an owl and set up a build-your-own-owl activity station for children to take home with them.  The Science Center regularly supports the community in Burlington through displays, events and special programs.



       Ms. Pavlicek & Barred Owl


             Caitlyn & Fireball the tortoise


              Ali & Wilbur the guinea pig


                          Michael & cornsnake



     Annie the Great Pyrnees

Proud first grade planter! October 6, 2015

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Gwyneth and Evan McNamee are standing next to their amazing sunflower!   It was 9’8″ high and the flower’s center was 11″ total! We are very proud of them!  Gwyneth brought the sprouted plant home from her first grade planting units, which were sent to each of the classrooms from the Science Center last spring.


Science with Mr. Musselman at Camp EagleFox September 25, 2015

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With roughly a classroom’s worth of students between Memorial and Fox Hill fifth-grades choosing not to attend Camp Bourndale, Mrs. Olshaw and Mrs. Walsh brought their students together to create “Camp Eagle-Fox.” Mr. Musselman joined the campers on their first day to facilitate an exciting morning of science investigations and activities.

A squid dissection immediately had students buzzing with excitement as they explored the exterior adaptations of their squid specimens before taking their first snips with surgical scissors into their squid’s interior.

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Once inside, students examined the squid’s gills, hearts, and ink sac while learning about their function and the role they play to help the squid survive. Students particularly enjoyed removing the “pen” that gives the squid its long, pointed structure to write their names with the ink found inside the sac!

Writing our name with ink from the squids ink sack!

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

Students wrapped up their investigation by removing the beak and eyeballs from the head of the squid. Students were surprised to find just how small the eyeball was and how similar the two-part beak of the squid was when compared to birds of prey like hawks and falcons!

After cleanup students were treated to an exciting round of “Mountain Lion Hunt” where they were introduced to the concept of a habitat’s “carrying capacity,” the maximum number of organism a habitat is able to sustain. Students played the role of mountain lions hunting squirrels, rabbits, beavers, and deer in order to obtain enough food to survive for the month. Some students were burdened with additional challenges, including an injured leg and the need to care for two additional mountain lion cubs!

Hunting our prey in a model carrying capacity activity. #elemsci

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

When the game was finished, several of the mountain lions had been unable to gather enough food to survive while others had plenty. Ideas were shared about how to make the process more fair so that everyone was able to eat leading to some mathematical calculations about just how many mountain lions could survive on the food available.

Just 17 mountain lions could survive in our model habitat. Eventhough there were only 16 mountain lions playing the game, only 7 survived when left to fend for themselves!

Just 17 mountain lions could survive in our model habitat. Eventhough there were only 16 mountain lions playing the game, only 7 survived when left to fend for themselves!

Students were prompted with tough questions. Do you feed yourself or your mountain lion cubs first? What if all the rabbits died of disease and there was not enough food to go around for even half the mountain lions? Finally students were left to ponder how well this game could be applied to humans on Earth. Students noted that humans had a much more diverse diet than mountain lions, but also recognized that problems such as the amount of water in California, and the hungry found in our own neighborhoods had some similarities. Great food for thought as our students grow and become even greater consumers!

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

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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



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