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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.

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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“Superfish” Explores Aquarium Creatures Parts and Functions with Kindergarteners January 26, 2016

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Memorial kindergarteners observing the octopus suction cups during their Superfish show! #bpschat

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Every year before Burlington Kindergarteners venture to the Aquarium, Mr. Musselman visits the school to explore the many different creatures special features in a show known as “Superfish.”

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Students learn that all animals can be broken down into two groups, those that have a backbone and those that do not. These creatures are known as vertebrates and invertebrates.

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Mr. Musselman highlights creatures students will want to stay on the look out for, and asks students to imagine how their different parts help each creature survive. Students share how the mollusks shell provide protection, as do the exoskeletons of the horseshoe crab and lobster. One lucky volunteer gets to observe first-hand how the suction cups of a seastar keep them safely glued to the rocks of our shorelines.

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The “Superfish” comes out toward the end of the show as Mr. Musselman describes the different parts and functions that all fish share. A great white shark jaw fossil makes for great intrigue, but is outdone when students line up at the end of the show to examine an octopus close up (before seeing a live one at the aquarium later in the week.)

Burlington Science Center Exhibit: Patterns in Nature! January 12, 2015

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In science classes, teachers often focus on specific content areas to drive their science curriculum. Topics such as Light & Sound, Rocks & Minerals, or Animals and their Habitats are particularly popular with students. But there are also science concepts that cut across all science disciplines. This year the Science Center decided to showcase one such concept through their bi-annual touring exhibit: Patterns in Nature.

Younger students are first can find patterns in their everyday lives by observing the natural world around them. As they grow older, students can use patterns to sort and classify objects in their world. They can begin to use patterns to make thoughtful predictions about scientific phenomena. Students even come to use patterns as evidence to support scientific explanations about the world they observe around them.

Our patterns exhibit explores several natural phenomena and the patterns they exhibit.  This charges students to think critically about what the patterns can tell us about the world around us and what they suggest may be to come in the future! Several stations illustrate patterns we can see clearly (such as stripes that help tigers hide in the grasslands) while others reveal patterns that may not be visible without careful data collection for a year (seasons and constellations) or thousands of years (earthquake locations) at a time!

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Check out all the different stations we offer in this exhibit by exploring the pictures below, or come see the exhibit for yourself when it visits your child’s school! The exhibit is currently on display for two weeks at the Memorial School. It will then travel to Pine Glen, Fox Hill, and the Francis Wyman where it will also be on display for two weeks at a time.

As always we love to hear your feedback. Please let us know what you think about our exhibit by email or through the comments section below!

Science Center Animal Anarchy? Fox Hill Fifth Graders to the Rescue! November 26, 2014

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Last month Mr. Musselman visited the Fox Hill fifth graders to beg for their help. Total anarchy had swept the Science Center after our mischievous had escaped and ruined many of their homes. With students recently wrapping up a unit on animal characteristics and classification, there was no better group of students to put their knowledge and talents together to engineer new shelters for the Science Center animals.

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After a review of the engineering design process, students were given the opportunity to select a science center animal to design and build a new critter cage for. Students had to first review what they knew about the creature and do additional resource to have a better understanding of the types of conditions the animal preferred. Students then got to designing elements of a model enclosure that would provide the basic necessities for their selected critter. Ultimately, every group made sure the food, water, shelter, and enclosure conditions for exercise and comfort would be met.

 

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the model enclosures were on display for fellow classmates, third graders (studying habitats over the year), and Mr. Musselman were on hand to witness the fabulous work students had done while taking in presentations performed by the enclosure engineers.

Special thanks to Mr. Norman and Mrs. Jaffe for their excellent work with the students through the entire design process and the great evidence of work documented throughout. Mrs. Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman will surely be using some of these designs in future animal enclosures at the Science Center!

The Curious Mystery Animal November 1, 2013

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Mr. Musselman recently collaborated with Laura D’Elia, Dan Callahan, and Kindergarten teacher Mellissa Parnell on developing a unit where students explored animal families while learning how to read and glean important facts from notes and other non-fiction. Their full blog post can be found on the PineGlenLTC blog here.

The curious mystery animal gave kids a chance to not only learn about animal families and pick out important facts from reading but make claims using evidence, an important scientific practice! The concept of visualizing data in the form of a graph was also introduced when “Dr. Curious” visited the Kindergarteners to hear their persuasive arguments first hand.

Salvaged Barred Owl December 13, 2012

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The Science Center has both federal and state permits which allows us to salvage most species of animals.  This beautiful barred owl was unfortunately killed by a car crash on the entrance to the highway near the high school.  Ms. Pavlicek will utilize the parts of the owl for use in her educational programs throughout out the schools in Burlington.

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Barred Owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Act.  To learn more about this beautiful animal, check out the link below:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl/id

Invertebrate Observations November 15, 2012

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The fifth grades at Fox Hill School are learning about the classification of living things.  As part of their unit on invertebrates, the students have the opportunity to observe three live invertebrates-a crayfish, a tarantula, and cockroaches!  Students observe the live animals, record information on their data sheet and then make comparisons about the three animals.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach sitting on student’s sweatshirt

Rose-hair Tarantula

Crayfish

The Science Center offers this animal activity to all fifth grades in Burlington and even assists with the lesson from time to time.

Gerbil Babies October 31, 2012

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Gerbil babies fit in the palm of your hand!

One of the most popular classroom pets throughout the Burlington elementary schools are gerbils. Gerbils are a member of the rodent family and found throughout Mongolia in the wild.

The gerbil mother keeps watch over her young.

Our gerbils come from Libby Hannah (“The Gerbil Lady”) of the Shawsheen River Gerbil Rescue. Check out her website: http://www.shawsheenrivergerbils.com/

This week, Libby brought us a mother gerbil with week old babies. Gerbils have an average of 4-7 babies in a litter. Gerbils are born naked and blind. Their eyes open at about 2 weeks old and they are weaned (able to survive on their own) at 4 weeks of age. What an exciting opportunity to watch a mammal grow right before our eyes!

Pine Glen Science Night October 26, 2012

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The Pine Glen PTO and Burlington Science Center teamed up last night to host an incredible evening of fun and learning. Their first ever “Science Night” was a huge success, as over 200 students and family members came out to explore, engage and socialize as a community.

Community members line up to see the inside of the StarLab

The gymnasium was abuzz with science!

Their were five different activities going on simultaneously over the hour long event, all of which were operated by Science Center student aides and Burlington faculty members past and present. Telescopes were setup outside, fixed towards the waxing gibbous moon as it moved across the partly cloudy sky. Indoors, the Science Center’s StarLab was running short tours of the sky’s constellations while students constructed “straw rockets” and created constellations of their very own. All the while, Miss Pavlicek and students gave presentations and answered questions on a variety of nocturnal animals, including a particularly popular screech owl!

Miss P shares the corn snake with students.

Constellation creators!

Families sit down to build “straw rockets.”

 

 

All in all the event was a tremendous hit and the Science Center looks forward to hosting future Science Nights at the other elementary schools in Burlington!

Just a few of our volunteers. We are so lucky to have them!