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2020 Summer Robotics Programs Enrollment Now Open March 12, 2020

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Enrollment for the Summer 2020 Summer Robotics programs are now open! Enrollment numbers reached an all-time high last year across our two programs, “Into Orbit” and “Mission Moon.” Programs are facilitated by Mr. Musselman, Burlington elementary and middle school teachers, as well as middle school age mentors from the MSMS FLL Robotics Team.

This year’s programs are set in the spirit of building cities and infrastructure for the future! Incoming 4th, 5th, and 6th graders will participate in our FIRST LEGO LEAGUE “City Shaper” Bootcamp while incoming 2nd and 3rd graders will participate in an upgraded version of the winter after school program, “Boomtown Build”.

City Shaper Registration Form (future 4th, 5th, and 6th graders)

Boomtown Build Registration Form (future 2nd and 3rd graders)

Both programs will operate during the first week of the summer programs offered (July 6th-16th, Monday through Thursday) at Memorial Elementary. A nominal, but non-refundable deposit must be submitted with your registration form to hold your spot. Open the registration forms above for more information regarding dates, cost, and other registration details. Questions unanswered by the forms may be directed to Mr. Musselman at the Science Center via email (musselman@bpsk12.org) or phone 781-270-1835.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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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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!

Enroll Now in LEGO Robotics Summer Programs! April 9, 2018

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Scenes from FLL boot camp @burlingtonsummerprogram

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Spring has sprung which means summer registration for our LEGO Robotics programs are now open! Along with an improved FIRST LEGO League Bootcamp program now in its fourth year running, we will be offering a new “WeDO Robotics program for incoming second and third graders. Programs are facilitated by Mr. Musselman, Burlington elementary teachers, and middle school age mentors from the MSMS FLL Robotics Team.

Both programs will operate during the first week of the summer programs offered through the Burlington Public Schools at Memorial Elementary. Space is limited so enroll now. A nominal, but non-refundable deposit must be submitted with your registration form to hold your spot. Open the registration forms below for more information regarding dates, cost, and other registration details.

FLL Bootcamp Summer Flyer (Grades 4-6)

WeDO Robotics Summer Flyer (Grades 2-3)

Emergency Contact and Medical Form (required for both programs)

Exploring Ever Changing Habitats on Plum Island April 4, 2018

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Students overlook the Parker River Wildlife Refuge salt marsh at low tide.

To support second grade’s life science curriculum transition to habitats this spring, the Science Center coordinated field trips with the Mass Audubon Society for all of our grade two classrooms to the Joppa Flats Education Center on Plum Island. These programs are facilitated by a mix of Mass Audubon educators and volunteers who are passionate about introducing our youth to the often overlooked, but invaluable Parker River Wildlife Refuge, and estuary at the mouth of the Parker and Merrimack River home to a diverse and abundant amount of wildlife.

Students started on the salt marshes of the Parker River, investigating the organisms that make their home in the habitats thick sea hay and the role the ebb and flow of the tides play in bringing life to and from the ocean and the marsh. They slopped through porous ground and vegetation, hunting for “coffee bean snails” and other creatures that make their home in the detritus layers of the marsh as its native ducks would.

A short bus ride away, students clambered over sand dunes that had overcome the  boardwalk during the March storms on their way to the beach. They mimicked the behavior of piping plovers making nests on the island’s beach and dunes while learning about how their nesting grounds are protected by the reserve during their nesting season. Students caught a glimpse of the reconstruction efforts of the sea walls along the islands more developed area before learning about how the sand dunes interlocking roots create natural barriers for the salt marsh and land further inland.

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What is the human impact on this habitat?

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Modeling piping plover nests!

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All the while students braved the elements, with stronger winds and cooler temperatures than those found in Burlington. Our students were very engaged and we look forward to making connecting between these habitats and those they will explore closer to home later in May when they investigate the many habitats found at the Mill Pond Reservoir.

Pine Glen’s Bridge Engineers February 3, 2017

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“Twenty One Elephants and Still Standing” by April Jones Prince

Second graders at Pine Glen have been ‘building’ an understanding of how engineers select materials for specific purposes through their new “bridge engineering challenge.” Before being introduced to the challenge teachers read the core book, “Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing” a picture book documenting how P.T. Barnum seized the attention and awe of New York City by marching  his circus star elephants across the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge, proving to the masses the bridge was safe and his circus was in fact, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Using the pictures in the book and images from other bridges around the world, students discuss what materials bridges are made of and why learning that this “research” will be handy before they get to work building their own model bridges!

The criteria for a successful bridge is simple: The bridge must be 45cm long and hold the load of 5 circus elephants. All groups use the same type and quantity of materials before engaging in the challenge.

Along the way, teachers assess student understanding of the thinking engineers need to do before partaking in construction projects like bridges by asking them to share their thinking about which materials they chose to use and why. Students later evaluate whether or not the bridge meets the expected “engineering solution criteria” (Was it long enough? Did it hold the animals?) before documenting their bridges and learning in their Explain Everything digital notebooks.

The Science Center is excited to see students engaging in this kind of learning being built into each and every new science unit across our K-5 schools and classrooms. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates on what new investigations and challenges our students are embarking on!

Wood Frog Eggs and Life Cycles! April 16, 2014

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Every spring as the temperatures rise and the local water resources thaw, local wildlife starts to emerge and prepare for reproduction.  Amphibians travel to areas of the forect floor that have filled with water from melting snow.  These pools of water are called vernal pools.   Vernal pools provide a great food source and a safe place to lay their eggs.  They are a wonderful habitat for viewing unique wildife. photo 1 Every year Ms. Pavlicek travels to local vernal pools in search of amphibian eggs to share with her elementary classrooms.  They are used for a variety of science curriculum connections including life cycles, characteristics of living things, adaptations and amphibian units.  Each interested classroom receives 10 eggs, food and an information packet.  The classrooms will raise their tadpoles and release them back into the vernal pool shortly after. 

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Wood frog egg masses attahed to plants

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Wood frog egg mass

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Garden snake in the forest

Be sure to check out the Science Center’s video on this egg collecting excursion here.

Mrs. Anderson’s second grade class working on their observation amphibian journals.







Investigating Craters April 15, 2014

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For thousands of years humans have looked to the sky and told tales of the moon. Invoked by patterns on the moon’s surface, the stories of the man on the moon and the rabbit of immortality hold special places in different cultures across the earth. But as second graders at Fox Hill have been learning, the images of these creatures have been made over billions of years by the moon’s exposure to asteroids and the craters they leave behind.


Crater 01

Students drop everyday classroom objects into the baking soda “moon surface” and record qualitative and quantitative data about the crater that forms.

Mrs. Sheppard and Mrs. Lewis’ class recently investigated how craters are made. Why do craters take the shape that they do and what causes a crater to be wide or narrow or shallow or deep. Mr. Musselman recently joined them in their investigation, bringing model moon surfaces (baking soda) and a variety of crater makers (batters, balls, markers, and just about anything else from the storage cabinet) to explore how different craters are made and how to measure each crater using centimeters from the metric system and rounding to the nearest half.

crater 02

Which crater made the widest crater? Which crater made the deepest crater? Did any craters surprise you? Why?

Students were delighted to form their own craters and tested objects over and over to ensure similar results were made after dropping the same “asteroid” over and over again. The rounding to the nearest half and recording of mixed numbers proved a challenge to second graders, even before recording their results, but as patterns developed in the data collected on their data tables, students began to understand how different craters were being generated on the moons surface by a variety of different asteroids of different, shapes, sizes, and masses.

This lesson has been adapted from Peggy Ashbrook’s “Seeing the Moon” lesson from the January 2012 issue of Science and Children magazine. For access to the printable worksheet seen in this activity and produced by Mr. Musselman at the Burlington Science Center click here.

Pine Glen Students Play Meteorologists of the Future January 14, 2014

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The second grade students and teachers have been busy this past month learning about weather conditions, severe weather storms, and emergency preparedness for dangerous weather events.

Recently the fruits of their labors were shared with the Burlington Science Center. As second grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson writes, “[The] second grade students worked really hard with Miss Fallon and their classroom teachers to create weather forecasting videos. Mr. Callahan helped put it all together. Check them out below we are extremely proud of their efforts! Check out Mr. Callahan’s blog to learn more about how these green screen videos were made.

We couldn’t be prouder either! We here at the Science Center are always mindful of the tremendous work our classroom teachers put in to make our students’ science experiences go above and beyond! Check out each classrooms videos embedded below:

Mrs. Lane’s class

Mrs. Varrell’s class

Mrs. Anderson’s class

Pumpkin Science! October 4, 2012

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An oozing pumpkin in Mrs. Boucher’s classroom!

Second graders all over Burlington are currently exploring the science of pumpkins, learning about their anatomy, determining whether they sink or float, and then observing a chemical reaction we call “The Oozing Pumpkin!” Students also learn about the science behind fire and how a jack-o-lantern’s candles can burn all night long.

Exploring the pumpkin seeds, fibers and pulp at Memorial.