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

Posted by Sean Musselman in Science Center, Student Work.
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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.

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.

The Scientists Behind Science Education: Our Teachers! May 28, 2015

Posted by Sean Musselman in Student Work.
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Teachers are well known to be life-long learners, so it should be no surprise that a number of teachers in the Burlington schools are working with organizations like the Museum of Science to improve their practice and the state of science education as a whole! At Fox Hill, Mrs. Jaffe and Mrs. Snyder have been participating in an experiment being conducted by the Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary division. Over the past two years their classrooms have acted as “guinea pigs” using materials and curriculum provided by the MOS for one of their science units. In Mrs. Snyder’s class students have been studying structural engineering as a part of their Rock & Minerals unit while Mrs. Jaffe’s classes have been acting as electrical engineers as a part of their Electricity unit.

In both cases the teachers have been collecting pre and post curriculum data on student understanding and sending their results to the MOS to be more carefully analyzed for the effectiveness of their units. The real-life science experiment has been a win-win, as Mrs. Jaffe and Mrs. Snyder have both enjoyed modifying their curriculums to include the application of the engineering design process.

The Science Center is proud to support these teachers with the extra preparation needed for some of the engineering activities. We have also been watching with earnest at the wonderful work students have been doing and hope to include units and lessons like these in our coming curriculum changes over the next few years. More details to come on that!

Students Explore the Science of Static Cling with Digital Simulations! December 17, 2013

Posted by Sean Musselman in Science Center.
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Students in Mrs. Doherty and Mrs. Cunha’s classrooms turned to their digital devices to shed light on the invisible world of electric charges. Using free simulations available on the web from the University of Colorado’s PhET program, students first observed how balloons are attracted to sweaters after they are rubbed together in real life with the help of a charged Mr. Musselman before turning to the school’s iPad cart.

iPad static electricity exploration

Making the invisible more concrete with the help of online simulations that model static charge behavior.

With initial observations already made, Mr. Callahan helped students use Qrafter to quickly link to the balloon and sweater simulations online. From there they were asked to simply “explore” and record any surprised they discovered as they recreated the experiment, and toggled options on and off such as introducing a second balloon to the experiment and a wall that the balloon surprisingly appeared to “stick” to as well!

Qreator screen

Mr. Callahan introduces students to Qrafter and using QR codes. Thanks, Dan!

Towards the end of class the students gathered on the rug and shared their most notable observations. Mr. Musselman recorded them on the board, emphasizing important vocabulary words such as charge, attract, repel, positive, and negative. Students did an excellent job, with Mr. Musselman leaving very impressed at the keen observations and conclusions students were able to draw about electric charges!

Static Charged Notes

Sharing what we learned. We could have gone on and on but we ran out of time!

Reverse Engineering Flashlights October 31, 2013

Posted by Sean Musselman in Science Center.
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With most of the Memorial School’s third graders turning themselves into ghouls, fairies, and superheroes tonight, the third grade teachers and Mr. Musselman recognized a perfect opportunity to integrate some STEM and safety into their halloween plans!

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Students “reverse engineered” simple flashlights to explore how they worked. Besides looking into the circuitry of the flashlight and how the parts worked together to make the flashlight turn on and off, students also explored the design properties of the “reflector” to better understand how the flashlight takes a light source like a bulb and focuses the light into one direction.

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At the end of the day students put the flashlight together and had a great tool to use tonight as they trick-or-treat through their neighborhoods!

Lighting the bulb!