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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 after school, one hour, Grades 1 – 5

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

Memorial #1: Tuesdays after school, one hour, Grades 1 & 2

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

Pine Glen: Thursdays after school, one hour, Grades K-5.

 

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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Sharing Resources and Experiences with “Computerless Coding” at #EarlyEdCon October 15, 2018

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Over the weekend Mr. Musselman shared his experiences and resources with a dozen early childhood educators around developing computational thinking for our youngest learners. His workshop, “Computerless Coding with Young Learners” featured a brief overview around what state and national frameworks say about computational thinking and computer science standards K-12 learning strands before giving educators and opportunity to explore a number of devices the Burlington Public Schools currently have and use at their schools.

PreK and Kindergarten teachers from Burlington to Bourne attended and had the opportunity to explore four different devices, Code and Go Mouse, Cubetto, KIBO, and the junior of them all, the Codepillar!

Teachers appreciated the opportunity to play-test and develop their own understanding of constructing and running “algorithms” using a variety of visual representations each device uses. Many rejoiced when ambitious challenges were completed and everyone felt like they experienced an authentic early childhood learning model, learning by playing!

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.

 

Summer of “FIRST”s for Robotics Summer Programs July 22, 2018

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2018 brought several firsts to the Burlington Public School annual robotics summer programs, directed by Burlington Science Specialist, Mr. Musselman. New students, new teachers, new kits, and a whole new set of challenges meant to build student capacity around computer science skills, physical robotic machinations, and most importantly, teamwork!

Over 80 students ranging from ages 8-12 participated in two different programs built on the core values of the For Innovation and Recognition of Science and Technology or “FIRST” organization: Discovery, Innovation, Inclusion, Team Work and Fun. For all participants that meant morning meetings and energizers centered on working together.

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Core values challenge! Can we flip the sheet without anyone falling off? #bpschat

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Incoming second and third-graders participated in a program using new, “We-DO” LEGO 2.0 kits, featuring programming and design challenges that encouraged students to develop robots that were able to perform tasks such as grabbing, pushing, seek and find, and signaling communications. Facilitated by Mrs. Anderson and Ms. Scheffer these students followed a program of design, improve and share, coming together each day to highlight successes and failures they learned from.

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More rad racers from yesterday in @jlscheffer’s robotics classroom. #bpschat

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These students also used new, “Code and Go” mice designed to develop student spatial awareness and understanding of how algorithms control devices to perform specific tasks and challenges.

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Code and Go challenge at Robotics Camp #bpschat

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More code and go challenges

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Incoming fourth through sixth-graders participated in a “FIRST LEGO League Bootcamp,” a program mirrored off of the global competition that includes dimensions of research, robotics, and team cohesiveness. Using last year’s “Hydrodynamics” challenges and obstacles, these students developed solutions to these challenges using the EV3s while learning about water and the global issues surrounding fresh water scarcity and the technical challenges behind cleaning and filtering water.

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Pieris’ robot pulls through with seconds to spare!

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Now it’s Mrs Sheppard’s classes turn to filter!

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When all was said and done, the program had doubled in size from previous years and students were making impressive gains on challenges not seen in previous years. Much of this can be attributed to our fabulous staff and volunteers from the MSMS Devilbotz team. The Science Center would like to thank Mrs. Anderson, Ms. Scheffer, Mrs. Sheppard, Mrs. Snyder, Mrs. Visocchi, and Mrs. Lynch for their support over the course of the two week program and especially our MSMS Devilbotz. Thank you for your continued support!

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!

 

Modeling Changes to Earth’s Surface: Where Would You Build? April 11, 2018

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Pine Glen fourth graders got an opportunity to play waterfront developer during their stream table investigation this week. After creating what was discovered to be a model stream/river and beach, students were given the opportunity to decide where they would build homes on the landform site.

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Oh my delta!

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More modeling…

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Some went for big risk, big reward while others took a more conservative approach. In the end many realized that the power of moving water was a force to be reckoned with! Along the way they considered how their small scale model might provide evidence for how larger landforms such as canyons and deltas form on our Earth’s surface.

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Some amazing Pine Glen geologist explaining the changes to their earth surface model. #bpschat #elngsschat

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Exploring Circuits with Mrs. Tate’s 6th Graders March 29, 2018

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In anticipation of working with Makey Makey sets later next month, Mrs. Tate invited Mr. Musselman in to explore circuits with her 6th grade small groups.

Open investigation was the play of the day with Mr. Musselman sticking to overarching essential questions, “Where does the energy start, where does it go, and how does energy  transform as it moves through the electrical system?”

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More electrical circuit systems in Mrs. Tate‘s class!

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Students troubleshot battery orientation, buzzers that only allowed electrical flow in one direction, and light bulbs of varying resistance and illumination capacity. Successful circuit systems were recorded with their iPads for further reflection.

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Exploring circuit systems with Mrs. Tate’s 6th graders. Where does the energy flow? What does it transform into? #NGSS

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Mr. Musselman also left electromagnetic hand-crank generators for further investigation of electricity flow and the concept of alternating currents with Mrs. Tate for future classes. We are excited to see what her students come up with when they bring their computer science skills into the equation and start developing programs that can be controlled through their Makey Makey sets.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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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