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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!

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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!

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.

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.

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.

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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Interweaving Pollinator Art into our Life Science Curriculum June 14, 2017

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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.