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Lego League Bootcamp Full of Success (and Meaningful Failures!) July 31, 2017

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Over thirty students from all four Burlington elementary schools participated in the Science Center’s FIRST Lego League Bootcamp session as a part of the Burlington Public Schools summer programming. Students took on the robotics challenges from last year’s FIRST Lego League Challenge, “Animal Allies” using the board, challenges, and LEGO elements used by the MSMS Robotics team in the fall of 2016, Also on board were three volunteers from the team as well as a mentor from the BHS Devilbotz. Mrs. Sheppard and Mrs. Anderson co-operated the camp with Mr. Musselman and hope to use some of the elements and LEGO kits themselves in the coming academic year in their classrooms or after-school clubs.

About to begin scoring round 1 of our FLL boot camp!

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A look through the Burlington Science Center instagram feed over the past two weeks will reveal all of the great fun students had succeeding (and failing!) at their challenges. Students learned the importance of using sensors to guide robots toward their goals and experienced first-hand the challenges of cooperating with peers to coming to a consensus on how to approach a challenge with many possible solutions!

Working on our pollinator challenge at the @burlingtonsummerprogram

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Mr. Musselman is also pleased to announce that next year the Science Center will be expanding its role in the community by developing a EV3 LEGO Robotics library loan program, available to all Burlington students. Contact Mr. Musselman after September 15th to schedule a loan of one of the center’s EV3 LEGO kits.

Scenes from FLL boot camp @burlingtonsummerprogram

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The Science Center would also like to thank the BEF for their continued support of Burlington Public Schools robotics programs and the Science Center specifically. Thank you for all that you do!

Our great robotics programs would not be possible without the support from the @burlingtonedfoundation. Thank you!

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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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Tidepool Create-a-Creature Activity June 21, 2017

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The Science Center takes all first grade to Marblehead Neck for a parts and function field investigation of tide pool animals.  When the students return, they brainstorm about the animal, their parts and their functions.  They then imagine, design and create a new tide pool creature.  They test their creature in a mock tide pool bin to see if their animal survives the motion of the waves.  Check out the video of some first graders from Fox Hill sharing their “create-a-creature” and putting their creations to the test!

Protect that Popsicle! Sun Shade Engineering June 14, 2017

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On the hottest day yet this year our Francis Wyman Kindergarteners were furiously planning, collaborating, and building their sun shelters to protect Mr. Musselman’s popsicles! As the year winds down all of the Kindergarten classes will be partaking in this challenge… just as long as the sun stays out! Thanks to Mrs. Duncan for sharing these photos of her classroom’s constructions!

Engineering Earthquake Resistant Structures June 8, 2017

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Mrs. Weinberg’s 4th graders got a sneak-peak at next year’s earthquake curriculum as pilots for a future “Quake Shake Engineering” challenge put together by Mr. Musselman. Students learned about the kinds of seismic waves earthquakes form before learning about the substructures commonly put into place by construction companies to reduce the impact of an earthquake on a building or piece of city infrastructure.

Students planned, constructed, tested, and compared results with fellow classmates to determine which structures held up to the seismic tests (performed by student power and the help of a metronome). At the conclusion of the challenge 3 of the 5 structures managed to hold their own to the model earthquake. The “winner” of the bid for construction eeked by their second closest competitor by saving such slightly more on their design’s cost and weight (secondary objectives to the most important goal!)

Mr. Musselman would like to thank Mrs. Weinberg’s class for being such great “guinea pigs” and structural engineers! Hard hats off to you!

Now Enrolling Students for FIRST Lego League Summer Bootcamp! May 11, 2017

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Students from the MSMS Devilbotz team undertaking the same “Animal Allies” challenges boot camp participates will tackle this summer!

Burlington is hosting a FIRST Lego League “bootcamp” this year for students entering grades 4, 5, and 6th grades in the 2017/2018 school year. Participants will engage in a mock version of the 2016 FIRST Lego League competition, “Animal Allies” and work in teams to construct and program LEGO robots that navigate obstacles and complete challenges. Students will also explore how humans and animals currently depend on and impact one another and imagine how robots could play a role in improving this relationship in the future. This summer program is an excellent primer for students who might be interested in participating in FIRST Lego League teams, including the Marshall Simonds Middle School “Devilbotz” in the future.

Tuition for this summer session is $250. Transportation is to be arranged by parents.

To enroll your child, print out, complete, and send this flyer with required information completed to Burlington Public Schools, Attention to Rosemary DeSousa at 123 Cambridge Street by June 1st, 2017. Also include the health and release form linked here and a non-refundable deposit of $25 (the deposit is applied to tuition). The tuition balance is due by June 19th, 2017. This is the second announcement for this program and attendance is already at two-thirds capacity so register as soon as possible! Additional questions can be directed to Mr. Musselman (musselman@bpsk12.org) or Mrs. DeSousa (desousa@bpsk12.org)

Exploring Magnetic Forces with Francis Wyman Kindergarteners May 11, 2017

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Mr. Musselman opens with a “magic”… oops, he meant magnetic ladybug!

Scientific thinking and investigation is a big part of Mr. Musselman’s magnet program for Burlington Kindergarteners. Yesterday it was Francis Wyman’s turn as Mr. Musselman performed three programs to six kindergarten classrooms. During the program students are frequently asked to observe the magnets revealed through the program with their “science observing glasses”, keeping a watchful eye for patterns in the magnets’ properties (such as their poles) and the way in which magnets behaved when close to one another!

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These bar magnets poles are attracted to one another!

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Unbelievable! The magnetic poles of the same kind repel!

Students put on their “prediction hats” to make educated guesses about which materials would attract to the magnets. Many guessed that all the metals would… but to our surprise only some did!

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Prediction hats ON! Which materials in our “pond” will attract to the magnetic fishing pole?

Students also learned the difference between permanent magnets and Mr. Musselman’s incredibly strong but temporary electromagnet! The students were in uproar when four students were unable to out pull the electromagnet in Mr. Musselman’s version of tug-of-war!

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Its an electromagnet tug-of-war! Who will win? The kindergarteners or the electromagnet keeping the rope connected?

A special thanks to Mrs. Duncan for sharing these pictures of her and Mrs. Marsh’s classroom. The Science Center is looking forward to developing an updated “Push and Pull” forces unit for Kindergarteners next year. The magnet program is sure to be an exciting part of this new curriculum.

BHS HelpDesk and Science Center partner to build “Augmented Reality Sandbox” December 9, 2016

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Students, Eddie Reis and Jinzhen “Hugo” Hu have been furiously working to bring a Science Center BEF grant vision to reality. As the holidays approach we checked in with these students to see how far they had come with the future Science Center crown jewel, the Augmented Reality Sandbox!

As you can see, the kinks are still being worked out and the entire project is not yet mobile, but we are confident this project will come to full fruition in the coming months as the technical and structural glitches get worked out. Eddie and Hugo also plan to add in the watershed and precipitation features to the software. The AR Sandbox will be on display and available for students to explore during the Hour of Code week scheduled for the week of December 12th.

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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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.