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Our Superhero Secretaries! June 20, 2019

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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Over the past few years our curriculum rollout as required some serious scheduling gymnastics by Burlington’s elementary school secretaries. Pulling whole teams of grade-level teachers is a hard pull any time, never mind during years when substitute teacher numbers are at an all-time low! Through it all our secretaries have worked their magic with a smile to ensure our teachers have the time and opportunity to prepare themselves for delivering our science curriculum to the best of their ability.

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Thank you Julie Gosselin, Kristin Downie, Kathy Bogosh, Julie Conley, and absentee line manager, Jill Papadonis for all your hard work that has allowed us to do ours!

and to all of our secretaries, teachers, and Burlington community at large have a wonderful summer and see you in September!

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BPS Second Graders Tackle Beach Erosion on Plum Island April 26, 2019

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As a part of all BPS second graders new “Earth’s Changing Surface” units, students have been exploring how wind and water change our Earth’s surface and investigating engineered solutions. Solutions such as beach grass and sea walls are commonly found along the U.S. coastline and play a particularly important role for the residents of Plum Island in Newburyport.

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It was a wet and windy day at Joppa Flats yesterday, but we’ve learned so much about our constantly changing coastline! 💨 🌊

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To act on our student learning and support Plum Island’s population of both people and wildlife, second graders from all four elementary schools participated in a field trip to Plum Island to learn more about the beach ecosystem and lend a helping hand to the fight against beach erosion by planting dune grass in sections of barren dunes on the north side of the island. The planting location was selected in coordination with the Joppa Flats Mass Audubon team, directed by Lisa Hutchings and resident volunteers of Plum Island and many surrounding communities.

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Students from Pine Glen Elementary try their hand at planting new dune grass bundles on the backside of a sand dune. The dune grass’ root system will help stabilize and support the dune in the years to come!

While half of a school’s second graders attended the field trip, the half remaining at home participated in a full day of science investigations, including searching for the source of the Merrimack River using Google Earth, an erosion scavenger hunt of the school grounds, and the use of the Science Center’s state of the art Landform Model Sandbox, a tool using a digital projector to create an “augmented reality” experience demonstrating landforms, watersheds, and flooding!

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Picking a place to live in our augmented reality sandbox. Here comes the flood rains! #bpschat

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The Science Center and Mass Audubon were both thrilled with the results as were the residents of Plum Island. Our students were even featured in a news article from the Newburyport News! The Science Center looks forward to continuing this collaboration with Mass Audubon in the years to come.

Elbert the Alligator Makes A Snappy Surprise at BEF Trivia Night March 7, 2019

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Burlington Science Center employees and supporters, past and present were on hand at the Burlington Education Foundation’s annual BEF Trivia Night. Participating as team “Reality Bites” Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman brought along Elbert the Alligator to partake in the evening’s festivities. Elbert made his presence felt at all of the team’s competitor tables, including the School Committee’s!

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The BEF regularly supports the Science Center’s endeavour to bring “Science to Life” by seeding our programming great and small, including the Science Center starlab, infrared camera, and chick hatching incubator equipment. Miss P and Mr. Musselman thank the BEF for their continued support and a wonderful night out with the Burlington philanthropic community!

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Investigating Magnetic Forces with Francis Wyman Kindergarteners February 13, 2019

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It’s not a magic show… it’s a magnet show! Investigating how magnets behave when they come close together. #bpschat #sci4allss

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With Francis Wyman Kindergarteners launching into forces investigations during the final push to February break, Mr. Musselman visited the school’s five K classrooms to perform magic … (ahem!) magnet programs. The program introduces students to many different scientific ideas and practices through investigations and demonstrations that surprise and create wonder within the students about magnetic materials and their properties.

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What patterns do you see in these magnets?

Mr. Musselman starts the program with a quick tour of the common shapes magnets come in before asking to students to identify patterns (things that repeat or are the same) between the magnets introduced (Hint! The S is on the backside of the ring magnet!)

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Opposite poles attract… but what happens when we bring the same poles together?

Students then investigate what happens as magnetic poles “pull toward” or “attract” one another when they are different, but appear to “push” or “repel” away when they are the same!

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Annie “fishes” for magnetic materials while Mr. Musselman constructs the data chart with help from the audience.

Students also investigate and chart what happens when different materials are brought toward magnets and wonder why some materials seem to attract to the fishing pole magnet while others do not.

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The neodynium magnet has surprising strength!

Six Kindergarteners are later put to the test to determine if they can out-pull the incredible force of Mr. Musselman’s electromagnet before a final investigation of three different magnets and their properties to determine which magnet is the strongest!

Special thanks to Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Guanci for a number of the pictures and video taken during today’s programs!

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.

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.

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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!