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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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Burlington Barnes & Noble to Host Mini-Maker Faire Supporting MSMS Robotics October 27, 2016

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Pine Glen Science Night 2016 October 13, 2016

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Edison takes in the Science Night crowd from his perch on Miss P.

Last week, Science Center staff and volunteers welcomed students and their families to Science Night inside the Pine Glen 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!

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

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! Mrs. Hogan, pre-service teachers from Cambridge College and former Science Center Director, John Papadonis also facilitated several learning stations.

Pine Glen Science Night was proudly sponsored by the Pine Glen PTO and marks the fifth Science Night hosted by the Burlington Science Center. Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman intend bring Science Night to a new school every year with Memorial up next in the four year rotation! Thanks to Linda McNamee and Principal Lyons for sharing their photos with us.


See you next year, Memorial!

2016 Tomato Growing Contest Winners! October 13, 2016

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The Science Center would like to announce the winners of our 2016 Giant Tomato Contest.

The first Place Winner is Chloe Liljegren from 3rd Grade at Francis Wyman School!  Her tomato weighed in at 1 lb. 14.4 oz.  Chloe grew her tomato with help from her grandfather, “Papa Charlie.”  What a great bonding experience through the generations.

Second Place Winner is Rowan Gilligan from 1st Grade at Pine Glen School!  His tomato weighed in at 1 lb. 10.3 oz.

Third Place Winner is Emma Cerasoli from 5th Grade at Francis Wyman School!  Her tomato weighed in at 1 lb. 2.6 oz.

The 3 winners received an award plaque and a bunch of science prizes. Congratulations!

Every student who entered the contest received an “Honorable Gardener” certificate and a science goody bag prize.  Congratulations to everyone!  We are very proud of you all!

Using Models to Investigate Forces & Motion September 27, 2016

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Students at Memorial using force and motion simulations! #bpschat

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In anticipation of Rocket Day 2016, fourth graders all over Burlington have been exploring forces and their effect on an objects motion. In a new twist on a tried and true “Tug-of-War” lesson, Mr. Musselman introduced PhET models to classrooms at the Francis Wyman and Memorial schools. Using their iPads, students were able to access the free models and explore the cause and effect relationship between the forces being applied by the tug-of-war participants and the effect on the large cart of candy in the middle. Check out these student pictures and videos to see how students constructed their own understanding of forces and motion through this very cool simulation!

Constructing explanations for how different forces effect the cart's motion. #bpschat #ngsschat

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Science Center Launches First Round of Curriculum Aligned to Revised MA Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards August 30, 2016

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The beginning of every school year is generally marked with excitement and nervous anticipation. Among the many “to-do’s” teachers meet new students, tweak their curriculum, and develop routines to improve their practice and meet their new students’ needs. This year is no different in Burlington elementary classrooms, particularly as the Science Center rolls out new units (and phases out some older ones) in the first year of a multi-year roll curriculum overhaul designed to align our science curriculum with the Revised Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards.

Numerous teachers have spent hours consulting and collaborating  with Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman to “backward design” each unit, pilot investigations and lessons, identify small group reading material and beyond. The results are units designed specifically for Burlington, complete with digital teacher guides, rubrics, and student notebooks importable to student devices and open for community review.

The units are available for anyone to view and use (with a few exceptions to materials with subscriptions purchased solely for Burlington teachers). They can be found by clicking on the tab above on the Burlington Science Center homepage titled, “K-5 Science Curriculum“. As you will see, there are still a number of units to be rolled out. Teachers and administrators can expect this year’s focus to be on receiving and responding to feedback, making necessary changes to the new curriculum to better meet student learning goals, and mindfully developing curriculum for the 2017-2018 rollout.

Aquaponics Lab at Burlington High School August 11, 2016

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Ms. Pavlicek picked up 10 African Tilapia fish from Salem State College a few months ago to help with the start up of an aquaponics lab at BHS.  The goal for this lab is to provide an educational experience for students and to harvest the vegetables and fish for the school cafeteria.  The Science Center has been managing the start up of the aquaculture system and assisting with general maintenance over the summer.

Aquaponics is the match of aquaculture (the keeping of fish) and hydroponics (soil-less plant growing).  Aquaponics can be done on a large scale or in/outside your average home.  The fish produce waste and ammonia.  The fish waste is providing a food source (fertilizer) for the plants and then the plants filter the water that returns back into the fish tank.  Microbes (bacteria) convert the fish waste to nitrites and then into nitrates.  The solid waste is broken down and used for food for the plants.


We started our project with tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers and basil.  We are still in the beginning/learning stages of the system but have already processed 6 bags of lettuce and a handful of beans!  The tomatoes should be ready soon for harvest as well.


Check out BCAT’s news brief below for a close-up view of the aquaponics lab.

This is a collaborative project between Mr. Sullivan (BHS principal), Steve Zarba (system design and building manger), Dr. Conti (superintendent of schools) and the Science Center.


Summer Robotics Students Launch into a World of Programming and Engineering July 29, 2016

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The Burlington Science Center’s summer robotics program has found its rhythm in its third year of operation. A mix of incoming third, fourth, and fifth graders joined the second session of summer programs at the Memorial Elementary School from July 18th – 28th.

Day 1 of our summer robotics program. Assembling the bot to NASA specifications! #bpschat

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

During the first week, students engaged in a series of challenges as NASA Jet Propulsion Lab engineers charged with constructing the next Mars rover. Robots were built to exact “NASA specifications” before being programmed to travel precise distances, take tight corners, use touch and ultrasonic sensors to navigate unexplored terrain and light sensors to detect signs of valuable minerals or follow pre-constructed paths on the colony grounds. Each challenge was scaffolded to challenge the engineers to design robots and programs of increased levels of sophistication.

Team Red: Nick and Alan complete the Red Line Challenge! #devilbotz2876 #bpschat

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

Along the way our students engaged in questions about what roles could and should robots play in our world both now and in the future. Students created and shared Explain Everything presentations illustrating their imagined worlds in which robots completed chores and cleaned up the environment, expressing both the benefits of a robotized society and the challenges (such as jobs and “money loss” that would be faced as a result.)

Mrs. Snyder's robotics crew taking in a quick read on the variety of ways robots play a role in our lives. #devilbotz2876 #bpschat

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

Our students’ progress and accomplished feats were documented along the way on the Burlington Science Center instagram page. Check it out directly to see all of the fabulous work captured by our students!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 10.42.54 AM


MSMS Teacher, Fred Hickman Honored with Outstanding Science Teacher Award June 22, 2016

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The Burlington Science Center is proud to honor and highlight the career achievements of eighth grade science teacher, Fred Hickman with the North Shore Science Supervisor Association’s 2016 Outstanding Science Teacher Award.

Photo Jun 20, 9 25 14 AM

Mr. Hickman and Miss Pavlicek at the MSMS eighth grade end of year assembly

Fred has been teaching at MSMS for 16 years as a biology and physical science teacher. Prior to pursuing a career in education, he was an environmental scientist and vice president for environmental research at Tetra Tech in Pasadena, CA. During that time, he managed high-level environmental impact studies concerning the deployment of strategic and defensive missile systems for the United States Air Force and Army.

As a teacher, Mr. Hickman has been a leader in understanding the importance of the science standards and their reinforcement within the classroom. Fred has designed numerous lab experiments in physics and chemistry for eighth grade students that are now used as the basis for physical science study within the department. Fred’s classroom instruction is centered around student lab investigations and exciting teacher demonstrations. He also serves as a mentor to the other MSMS physical science teachers.

Fred has also taken on an “unofficial” capacity as a member of the MSMS music instructional staff. Fred is a model for aspiring scientists and musicians alike, performing with several organizations including the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra with his bass clarinet and the Shriners Swing Band with his baratone saxaphone.

Above all Fred has been a quality science teacher who cares about his students and their success. Thank you Fred for your continued outstanding service to the town of Burlington and its students!