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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.

Science Center Launches First Round of Curriculum Aligned to Revised MA Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards August 30, 2016

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The beginning of every school year is generally marked with excitement and nervous anticipation. Among the many “to-do’s” teachers meet new students, tweak their curriculum, and develop routines to improve their practice and meet their new students’ needs. This year is no different in Burlington elementary classrooms, particularly as the Science Center rolls out new units (and phases out some older ones) in the first year of a multi-year roll curriculum overhaul designed to align our science curriculum with the Revised Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards.

Numerous teachers have spent hours consulting and collaborating  with Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman to “backward design” each unit, pilot investigations and lessons, identify small group reading material and beyond. The results are units designed specifically for Burlington, complete with digital teacher guides, rubrics, and student notebooks importable to student devices and open for community review.

The units are available for anyone to view and use (with a few exceptions to materials with subscriptions purchased solely for Burlington teachers). They can be found by clicking on the tab above on the Burlington Science Center homepage titled, “K-5 Science Curriculum“. As you will see, there are still a number of units to be rolled out. Teachers and administrators can expect this year’s focus to be on receiving and responding to feedback, making necessary changes to the new curriculum to better meet student learning goals, and mindfully developing curriculum for the 2017-2018 rollout.

“Our Trash, Our Choices” Resources March 7, 2016

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The Burlington Science Center’s show, “Our Trash, Our Choices” is coming to each of the Burlington elementary schools over the course of the winter. During the show students will get a full look at the amount of trash they produce on a daily basis in their school’s cafeteria. The goal of the show is to get students thinking more critically about their trash and the opportunities missed everyday to reduce the amount of waste we create each day.

The resources posted below can help educators and families extend the conversation into their classrooms and homes.

Websites:

Meet the Greens, a family working hard to make sure they make the right choices for the environment. Through the family’s animated adventures (each containing a great environmental message) children and adults will learn about recycling, protecting animals, and more. The site includes an interactive blog where your kids can have discussions about the programs.

EEK! Environmental Education for Kids is an online magazine that is for kids. They have articles about the environment and other issues, and great activities for your kids to enjoy online.

Recycling for Kids and Teachers, produced by the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs includes links on recycling and composting, curriculum for teachers, and links just for kids to additional MA based green sites.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Kids Page shares more ways YOU can eliminate waste and protect your environment! Includes great info and games.

Videos:

Sid the Science Kid: Recycling!

BrainPOP: Humans and the Environment (subscription needed)

Reading Rainbow: “How Trash is Recycled” with LeVar Burton (YouTube)

ReCommunity: How Recycling Works (vimeo)

Improving Paper Recycling – American Forest and Paper Association (YouTube)

Composting for Kids with Peppa Pig (YouTube/ads)

How to Compost at School – Center for EcoTechnology/ MA EPA (YouTube)

Composting for Kids – Highfields Center for Composting (vimeo)

Books:

Common Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share – A simple story of our planet’s natural resources with jewel-like paintings by Caldecott Honor author Molly Bang. Through the example of a shared village green and the growing needs of the townspeople who share it, Molly Bang presents the challenge of handling our planet’s natural resources. Full color picture book.

The EARTH Book – Explore the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. Featuring a circular die-cut Earth on the cover, and printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, this book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good – from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.

Thanks to Memorial teacher, Elizabeth Guttenplan for sharing these titles!

Games:

Recycle Round Up – Help clean up the park! Your job is to sort the stuff people throw away and put it in the proper bin. Is it recycling, compost or trash? Created by National Geographic.

Recycle This! – Use the “airburst” tool to guide the recyclables into the proper bins before they fall into the trash. Created by NASA Kids.

The Magic Makeover, Superhero Training, trivia and more at the Kids Recycling Zone. Created by the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

The United States EPA list of “green games.”

Program for School Projects:

TerraCycle creates waste recycle programs for previously non-recyclable, or difficult-to-recycle, waste. The collected waste is then converted into new products, ranging from recycled park benches to upcycled backpacks. To get started, participants select a chosen recyclable and form a collection station. Teams earn points by sending away their trash (TerraCycle pays for shipping) which is converted into points, valued as money that can be donated or used for other goods.

Snowday Science! January 26, 2015

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SNOW SCIENCE FUN #1: LIVE CHICK BROODER CAM!

The chicks were supposed to hatch on Tuesday and Wednesday in the first and fourth grade classrooms at the Francis Wyman and Pine Glen schools.  Due to the blizzard, we decided to keep the eggs in the Science Center and students were able to watch the chicks hatch from home via our live web cam.  The chicks have now been moved to the brooder box (their home) and are growing as we speak.

Hope you enjoyed watching our live chick hatching! We hope to post more live web cam broadcasts in the future!


SNOW SCIENCE FUN #2: HOW MUCH WATER IN A FOOT OF SNOW?

How many inches of water does it take to make a foot of snow? The answer might surprise you!

Make a prediction, then watch Mr. Musselman’s “Blizzard Science” video posted below and perform the experiment for yourself!

You can use our step by step directions or design a similar experiment for yourself. Whatever your results, be sure to write them down so you can compare them with Mr. Musselman’s results or a friend’s!

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!

Shifting to the Next Generation of Science in Burlington Elementary Schools August 28, 2014

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BScience Next Generation

The Science Center opened the 2014-2015 school year with grade level presentations outlining the coming changes to the entire elementary school science curriculum. The changes outlined are a result of the Massachusetts Department of Early and Secondary Education’s release of their draft revised standards for Science, Technology, and Engineering, expected to be finalized and moved forward for public adoption during the 2015-2016 school year.

During this presentation Ms. Pavlicek outlined the reasons for the DESEs move to revise the standards and the significant changes the new standards will require to the way science is taught across K-12 classrooms. Mr. Musselman then outlined the five year plan designed to introduce new units one at a time, while providing professional development for teachers to better prepare them for the type of “science practice” work expected to be done with students in their classrooms. During the curriculum development and review process, the Science Center will be including teachers in the process of identifying key learning goals, developing curriculum to reach these goals, and assessments that teachers will be able to use to determine students mastery of the standards or “performance expectations.” Modifications have been made to each grade level’s curriculum, year-by-year, starting in the fall of 2016 to ensure that students do not experience gaps in their science learning and that a well.

Also introduced to the teachers was Science A-Z, a resource associated with Reading A-Z that will provide teachers with leveled readers across the curriculum and for their grade level. The Science Center and Mobile Learning teachers Diana Marcus and Jenn Scheffer will be helping teachers integrate these resources into their 1:1 classrooms.

The fifth-grade presentation has been embedded into this blog above. To see the presentations shared at every grade level follow this link to the Burlington Science Folder sharing the August PD presentations.

May the FORCE be with you! January 7, 2014

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This year the Science Center took the Burlington elementary students on an out-of-this-world investigation of the forces that surround us!

Gravity, Newton’s laws of motion, friction, and electromagnetism were all on display as students offered predictions, shared explanations, and volunteered to be a part of the many demonstrations Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman shared through the hour long show.

Students predicted whether balls of different weight would fall at the same or different speeds, replicating the legendary experiment by Galileo on the Tower of Pisa. Students were amazed by the strength of the force of friction between the pages of two phone books that could not be pulled apart. They laughed at the “Loco” Motion Swing as it rolled in the opposite direction of the swinging volunteer, demonstrating Newton’s Third Law of Motion ! But what really stood out to students was the amazing force behind the pencil cannon during the grand finale!

Our hearts were warmed by the wonderful thank you letters written and illustrated by Mrs. Coates class. It’s clear they enjoyed watching the show as much as Miss P. and Mr. Musselman enjoyed performing it!

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Thanks to teachers Kim Cook, Carrie Casey, Kelly Floyd, Patrick Murphy and Stephanie Smith for taking these great photos and film of our show. Keep an eye out for the show in its entirety on BCATV later this month!

 

Enjoy Holiday Mood Cards from the Burlington Science Center! December 13, 2013

Posted by MrMusselman in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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This week all Burlington K-5 students will be coming home with a special holiday science experiment from the Burlington Science Center. The holiday mood cards may seem magical but the “thermochromic” properties of the liquid crystals they are made from will lead to plenty of science investigations!

Watch this video to hear a brief explanation from Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman about the many ways you can explore heat energy with the mood cards over the holiday break. The Burlington Science Center wishes the entire Burlington community a joyful and safe holiday break. See you in 2014!

How Much Liquid Water in a Foot of Snow? February 10, 2013

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This past weekend’s blizzard covered New England with several inches of snow and will be remembered as one of the largest (and longest!) storms to coat Burlington in memorable history.

The snow could not have hit at a better time for our elementary schools though, as many of Burlington’s fourth graders are either wrapping up or just starting their science units on weather and climate!

A question often asked by students (and adults) is how much liquid water is there in a foot of snow? When learning about matter, students learn how matter contracts as it gets colder taking up less space, and expands as it gets warmer (taking up more space!)

But water is not like most matter. Thanks to water molecules electronegativity its molecules organize themselves into a special six-sided arrangement that produces a perceived hollow crystal interior. When ice and other forms of solid water are heated up, the arrangement breaks down, the hollow space collapses and the water “melts” into its liquid form. As you can see in the diagram below, liquid water ends up taking up less space than solid water and is therefore more dense than ice!

Water Molecular Arrangement

This phenomena has a profound effect on our Earth! Since ice floats the tops of Earth’s bodies of water freeze over while marine creatures live below. If ice was more dense (like most matter) ice would sink to the bottom, crushing marine creatures below and leaving our seas and rivers relatively lifeless!

Consider trying this experiment with your students or children and see if you get the same results! We are familiar with many different “kinds” of snow (light and fluffy, wet and sticky to name a few!) Do all of these snow types melt into the same amount of water? Does location matter? Allow your students and kids to explore the possibilities and maybe devise their own experiments!

Happy Holiday Experiment: Solar Beads! December 17, 2012

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This week all Burlington K-5 students will be coming home with a special holiday science experiment from the Burlington Science Center. They may just look like a few plain white plastic beads, but bring them outside and students will see the full beauty of these solar beads!

Watch this video to hear a brief explanation from Miss Pavlicek and Mr. Musselman about how solar beads work. Then you’ll be introduced to a science experiment for all students to try out over the holiday break.