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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!

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

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center, Student Work.
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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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Interweaving Pollinator Art into our Life Science Curriculum June 14, 2017

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Student Work.
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Beautiful flower artwork on display in the Memorial Elementary hallways.

This year Burlington took a big step toward aligning with the new K-12 Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards by introducing plant and animal structure and function units to the first and fourth grades. The process of pollination, and how the structures of plants and animals work together to help one another survive has been the focus at the fourth grade level, with students examining internal and external parts of the organisms to grasp their function. Along the way, the BPS Art Department was inspired to bring this exploration into their own work, and coordinated closely with Miss Pavlicek to interweave their own art standards and aspirations with the science curriculum.

Two teachers in particular have stood out that we would like to recognize. Art teacher, Donna York at the Memorial School became so inspired by the new curriculum that she dedicated a large portion of her year to the pollinator theme, having students from all grades construct artwork that captures pollinator shape, color, and function. When the work was published this spring through the Memorial hallways the work was absolutely breath-taking!

Art Teacher, Courtney Fallon took students in a different, but equally wonderful direction by piloting a pollinator performance unit to be shared with her fellow elementary art teachers in hopes they might produce something similar in their own schools. Students incorporated costume art, models created on “pollen” to demonstrate new learning, and an interpretive dance that got different pollinators mixing it up to share learning around their given pollinator type.

We are so impressed at the wonderful work these teachers have produced with their students! Special thanks again to Donna York and Courtney Fallon as well as Art Department Team Leader, George Rakevitch for their dedication and vision to make these imaginative projects a reality for their students.

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.

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See you next year, Memorial!

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.

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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!

“Code to the Future” Camp Enrollment Now Open April 15, 2016

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Please note that the attached flyer below is not affiliated with the Science Center or the Science Center Robotics summer program. For more information on the Science Center program click here. For a PDF flyer with clickable links of the Computer Coding Camp advertised below click here.

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Now Enrolling Students in Summer Robotics Program March 31, 2016

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Summer 2016 marks year three of the Burlington Summer Robotics Program for students enrolling as 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in the 2016/2017 academic year. Last year’s program was a great success! Student were entrenched in the future, programming EV3 model lego robots to do their bidding, learning the fundamentals behind communication and binary code, and probing guest speakers sharing their work as software and hardware engineers with questions. No matter what the interest and experience, there was a little something for everyone!

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This year’s theme will be modeled closely to last years, challenging students to develop prototypes of robot explorers capable of performing a variety of tasks autonomously on planet Mars! That said, students who participated last year are welcome to attend again this year, and there will be some changes to the ‘MEGA CHALLENGES’ offered during the second half of the program.

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This year’s program runs from Monday, July 18th to Thursday, July 28th. Those who are interested in learning more about the program can get all the details from this memorandum sent out recently to students through backpack mail. Questions about the program may be directed to Mr. Musselman.

To enroll, send a check and the ticket at the bottom of the memorandum and this emergency contact form to Burlington Public Schools, Attention: Rosemary Desousa, 123 Cambridge Street Burlington MA 01803 with the full enrollment fee or at $25 non-refundable deposit.

“Our Trash, Our Choices” Resources March 7, 2016

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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The Burlington Science Center’s show, “Our Trash, Our Choices” is coming to each of the Burlington elementary schools over the course of the winter. During the show students will get a full look at the amount of trash they produce on a daily basis in their school’s cafeteria. The goal of the show is to get students thinking more critically about their trash and the opportunities missed everyday to reduce the amount of waste we create each day.

The resources posted below can help educators and families extend the conversation into their classrooms and homes.

Websites:

Meet the Greens, a family working hard to make sure they make the right choices for the environment. Through the family’s animated adventures (each containing a great environmental message) children and adults will learn about recycling, protecting animals, and more. The site includes an interactive blog where your kids can have discussions about the programs.

EEK! Environmental Education for Kids is an online magazine that is for kids. They have articles about the environment and other issues, and great activities for your kids to enjoy online.

Recycling for Kids and Teachers, produced by the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs includes links on recycling and composting, curriculum for teachers, and links just for kids to additional MA based green sites.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Kids Page shares more ways YOU can eliminate waste and protect your environment! Includes great info and games.

Videos:

Sid the Science Kid: Recycling!

BrainPOP: Humans and the Environment (subscription needed)

Reading Rainbow: “How Trash is Recycled” with LeVar Burton (YouTube)

ReCommunity: How Recycling Works (vimeo)

Improving Paper Recycling – American Forest and Paper Association (YouTube)

Composting for Kids with Peppa Pig (YouTube/ads)

How to Compost at School – Center for EcoTechnology/ MA EPA (YouTube)

Composting for Kids – Highfields Center for Composting (vimeo)

Books:

Common Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share – A simple story of our planet’s natural resources with jewel-like paintings by Caldecott Honor author Molly Bang. Through the example of a shared village green and the growing needs of the townspeople who share it, Molly Bang presents the challenge of handling our planet’s natural resources. Full color picture book.

The EARTH Book – Explore the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. Featuring a circular die-cut Earth on the cover, and printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, this book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good – from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.

Thanks to Memorial teacher, Elizabeth Guttenplan for sharing these titles!

Games:

Recycle Round Up – Help clean up the park! Your job is to sort the stuff people throw away and put it in the proper bin. Is it recycling, compost or trash? Created by National Geographic.

Recycle This! – Use the “airburst” tool to guide the recyclables into the proper bins before they fall into the trash. Created by NASA Kids.

The Magic Makeover, Superhero Training, trivia and more at the Kids Recycling Zone. Created by the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

The United States EPA list of “green games.”

Program for School Projects:

TerraCycle creates waste recycle programs for previously non-recyclable, or difficult-to-recycle, waste. The collected waste is then converted into new products, ranging from recycled park benches to upcycled backpacks. To get started, participants select a chosen recyclable and form a collection station. Teams earn points by sending away their trash (TerraCycle pays for shipping) which is converted into points, valued as money that can be donated or used for other goods.

Girl Scouts Perform Energy Audit at Francis Wyman February 9, 2016

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Girl scouts from Troop 88060 performed an energy audit of the Francis Wyman Elementary School on their way to earning their “Investigate Award.” To help them find points of heat (and therefore energy) loss the scouts commandeered the Science Center’s infrared camera and explored their classrooms using its dual visible-infrared camera interface to identify points of energy waste.

The scouts were surprised to see that not only did their exterior walls and windows lose heat, but their electronic devices left idle were using lots of energy too! The experience gave all the scouts appreciation for turning off electronic devices along with the lights at the end of the school day.

The Science Center applauds these scouts on their way toward informing their community about ways to save energy while becoming better energy consumers themselves. We also thank Mrs. Schultz at the Francis Wyman School for volunteering as their fearless parent leader! The use of the IR camera was made possible through the Burlington Education Foundation and benefits all Burlington classrooms and organizations interested in using the tool. Please contact the Science Center to learn more!