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FIRST Lego League Junior Update: November/December 2018 November 8, 2018

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During the week of November 26th registration forms for the Winter 2019 FIRST Lego League season will be sent home to grade levels of students for which after school programs will be facilitated by Burlington elementary school teachers. Each school has different grade levels and different dates for which this program will be offered. While we have 18 Burlington teachers volunteer to facilitate the program, not all grades will be covered by our educators! Below you will find data outlining the anticipated days of the week, times, and grades offered for each school. In all cases our FIRST Lego League programs begin the week of January 7th and run through the Expo Day on April 27th. Registration for all programs will be filled on a first-come, first-enrolled basis and cost $100 for up to 14 sessions plus the expo.

 

Fox Hill: Mondays Tuesdays after school, one hour, Grades 1 – 5 (updated 11/27)

Francis Wyman: Thursdays after school, one hour, Grades 1 & 2

Memorial #1:  Mondays Tuesdays after school, one hour, Grades 2 & 3 (updated 11/27)

Memorial #2: Fridays after school, one hour, Grade 5

Pine Glen: Thursdays after school, one hour, Grades K-5. (We are unable to provide coverage between Kindergarten dismissal and start of club. K participants will need to be brought back to school to participate. We regret the inconvenience.)

Those disappointed to see that their child’s grade is not able to be serviced during the winter program have three options to still participate this year:

Parents and guardians may team up with another parent or guardian to facilitate their own team. The Science Center will provide the necessary WeDO kit on loan provided both mentors complete a CORI form and arrange a team of at least four Burlington children. The team will still need to pay a registration fee for the Mission Moon materials but will be able to keep these materials at the end of the program.

Wait and see if enrollment expands to other grades at your school. This assumes the maximum number of enrolled students is not met through planned registration. That said, we do not expect to be under-enrolled at any of the schools at this time.

Register for a re-run of this program during the summer, as part of the summer programming regularly provided by the Burlington Public Schools at the Memorial Elementary School. This program will run during one of the two summer sessions to be decided based on staffing later this winter.

As always, community members are welcome to reach out to Mr. Musselman with questions via email or the Science Center phone number at 781-270-1835.

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MSMS Lego League Teams featured on BCAT News November 5, 2018

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Thanks to BCAT for doing this great feature on our FIRST Lego League teams at Marshall Simonds Middle School. The teams, led by Mr. Marino, Mrs. Lynch, Mrs. Shea, and Mr. Walsh are administratively supported by Mr. Musselman at the Burlington Science Center. Their regional competition is scheduled for Saturday, November 17th at Blackstone Valley Regional High School from 8:00-3:00 for those interested in attending!

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.

FLL MSMS Devilbotz

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.

 

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!

 

Enroll Now in LEGO Robotics Summer Programs! April 9, 2018

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Scenes from FLL boot camp @burlingtonsummerprogram

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Spring has sprung which means summer registration for our LEGO Robotics programs are now open! Along with an improved FIRST LEGO League Bootcamp program now in its fourth year running, we will be offering a new “WeDO Robotics program for incoming second and third graders. Programs are facilitated by Mr. Musselman, Burlington elementary teachers, and middle school age mentors from the MSMS FLL Robotics Team.

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Diamond Dragons ready to roar! #bpschat #OMGrobots @bhsrobotix

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Both programs will operate during the first week of the summer programs offered through the Burlington Public Schools at Memorial Elementary. Space is limited so enroll now. A nominal, but non-refundable deposit must be submitted with your registration form to hold your spot. Open the registration forms below for more information regarding dates, cost, and other registration details.

FLL Bootcamp Summer Flyer (Grades 4-6)

WeDO Robotics Summer Flyer (Grades 2-3)

Emergency Contact and Medical Form (required for both programs)

Winter Sky Wonderings: Observe Orion! January 8, 2018

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As we know, the winter nights are long and can be cold, but they also present opportunity to connect with student sky explorations and the patterns of nature!

The January and February sky offers fantastic views of the constellation, Orion – easily identified by his bright, three star belt. Orion chases Taurus the Bull, a V shape constellation that can be seen when scanning up and to the right of Orion. These constellations will be visible in the Southeast sky at nightfall before rising higher in the sky as they slowly march South as night passes. These constellations take a path similar to that of the sun across our sky, a pattern you can connect to with your child by observing the constellation at two different times in the night with a point of reference (such as a tree or street lamp) to indicate that the constellations location in the sky has moved.

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Night sky image from: http://www.astronomytrek.com/step-4-interesting-facts-about-orion/

If Orion is still hidden by trees early in January just wait 2-3 weeks. Orion will be even higher and more south in the early evening hours as winter marches on. Orion is a seasonal constellation that can only be seen during one half of the year. During the summer months Orion is high in the sky during the day time!

The use of printable star charts or apps that chart the sky using augmented reality technology can also enhance your sky exploring experience. We hope that you will brave the cold and enjoy what the night sky has to offer with your child!

MSMS Devilbotz Rise and Inspire at Lego League Regional Qualifier November 19, 2017

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In just their second year the Devilbotz of Marshall Simonds walked away from their FIRST LEGO League regional tournament with hardware, winning the overall Inspiration Award and Judges Award while advancing one of their four teams to the state qualifier next month.

Coached by MSMS science teachers, Jane Lynch, Jourdan Marino and student mentors from the Burlington High Devilbotz, the team was an formidable presence in the stands overlooking the competition fields and in the “Pit.” Burlington red stood out against other teams from Arlington, Andover, Waltham, Belmont, Scituate, and the hosting City of Newton.

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“Los Chum Buckets” anxiously watch their robot leave the base!

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Savage Seven multi tasking!

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On the robotics fields, “Los Chum Buckets” and the “Savage Seven” led the team, with their robots performing multiple challenges in one string of code. Elsewhere, Burlington’s all-female, “Diamond Dragons” excelled in the Core Values challenge, where teams work together under tight time constraints to solve an engineering problem. The Diamond Dragons also earned the “Inspiration Award” as well, given to the team demonstrating extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit.

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Diamond Dragons and H2O Flow getting it done ✅ @bhsrobotix #omgrobots

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At the end of the tournament, it was team “H2O Flow” that took the top prize for Burlington, earning a trip to the State Qualifier next month and the “Judges Award” for their problem solving perseverance when told they could not use water in their presentation demonstration (but managed excellent scores anyway!)

Throughout the entire competition the teams demonstrated “Gracious Professionalism” toward each other and their fellow competitors. The event ended with a dance party seemingly led by the Devilbotz and Savage Seven’s, “Jackie the Shark.

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Finale dance party with Jackie the Shark at the lead. What a great day for MSMS Robotics! #bpschat

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Congratulations to all of our teams as the MSMS Devilbotz continue to rise in the region as outstanding competitors. Mrs. Lynch and Mrs. Marino were enthusiastic about the great gains the team made this year and hopes to see many return next year when a whole new set of challenges and real world problems await to be investigated and overcome.

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Block head!

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The Solar Eclipse is Nearly Here! August 17, 2017

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Mr. Musselman trying out his solar glasses. Even when the eclipse is over these glasses will still let you observe the sun safely!

As you have undoubtedly heard, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in Burlington on Monday, August 21st. Roughly 60% of the sun radiating on Burlington will be blocked by the ‘new moon’ directly between the Sun and Earth between 1:28 p.m. EDT and 3:59 p.m. The maximum partial eclipse will be visible at 2:46.

Solar and Lunar eclipses can be incredible sights! Even though solar eclipses occur as frequently on Earth as lunar eclipses (when Earth’s shadow is cast on a full moon), only people in the small band of Earth’s shadow can see the solar eclipse. They are also shorter in length, making them more rare to see in any one location.

When viewed properly, solar eclipses can be incredible sights! Below are some common myths dispelled along with information and support from NASA Solar Eclipse educator, Charles Fuco.

Myth #1:  “The Sun is more dangerous during an eclipse.”

An eclipsed Sun is no more dangerous than the “everyday” Sun. However, because the intense radiation of the sun is diminished our eyes do not “alert” our brains as effectively and we can be more inclined to look toward the sun… which can still do damage to the sensitive layers of light sensing tissues in our eyes. Therefore, its important to know how to view an eclipse safely which brings us to myth #2…

Myth 2:  “There are no safe ways to view an eclipse.”

There are many proven, safe ways for to observe an eclipse: young children can cross-hatch their fingers to make little pinhole cameras and stand with their backs to the Sun while they project the solar image through their fingers onto the ground—no equipment needed! They also will enjoy seeing the myriad undulating “mini eclipse” crescents on the ground under a leafy tree while remaining safely under its cover; older students can construct a solar viewer, which also satisfies an NGSS Science & Engineering Practices requirement. Anyone can hold a pasta colander as another way to project crescents on the ground; and one can look directly at the eclipse using certified-safe solar glasses (on a non-eclipse day as well). In Burlington, we will not be experiencing a total solar eclipse, so it is never appropriate to look directly at the sun without solar glasses.

Myth #3:  “You can see it better on TV.”

I can remember the first time I ever experienced a solar eclipse as a young elementary age child in Melrose. My brother and I used Cheez-its to observe the shadow on our front porch! It’s hard to imagine this experience would have left such an indelible mark on my memory if I had merely been watching footage on TV or via YouTube (assuming it existed then!) While I strongly encourage everyone to check out later footage of the eclipse totality, be sure to take the time to experience the eclipse first hand in your own backyards and playgrounds. This myth is spoken by those who have never experienced an eclipse live, seeing the dimming of the light in the sky, the sudden cooling of the air, and how our Earth’s wildlife seems to prepare for night to come… in the middle of the day! Experience this rare opportunity with your child today, so that they might reflect on it when the next partial eclipse comes our way another eight years from now!

BHS Helpdesk Senior Constructs BEF Funded “Augmented Reality Sandbox” June 23, 2017

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After two years of planning, designing, and construction successes and setbacks the BEF-sponsored “Augmented Reality Sandbox” has become a physical reality! Several students from the BHS Helpdesk have put their efforts towards this project, a tool designed to engage and support student learning around earth systems, watersheds, topography, and geologic hazards just to name a few. It has been the work of graduating senior, Eddie Reiss that has brought the project from pen and paper to fruition. During his time in the fall as a HelpDesk member Eddie “speced out” the necessary hardware, investigated different style projectors and sandbox sizes before ultimately falling on the design featured above. In the closing weeks of his tenure at BHS he took on the construction of the project as an individualized learning “internship”. The completion of this project means that with some minor additional work to be completed over the summer hitching the computer to the base of the portable sandbox and running cables up one of the posts, the sandbox will be ready for classrooms in the 2017-2018 academic year! The sandbox will also be featured at the 2017 MassCUE annual conference in the fall.

The Burlington Science Center would like to thank LeRoy Wong for overseeing Eddie’s work over the school year and most importantly the Burlington Education Foundation, or “BEF” for their support of this grant and several other grants over the years that have allowed us to continue to bring innovative tools and curriculum to our K-12 students. To learn how you can volunteer or financially support the BEF visit their website: www.burlingtonedfoundation.org

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