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MSMS Lego League Teams featured on BCAT News November 5, 2018

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Thanks to BCAT for doing this great feature on our FIRST Lego League teams at Marshall Simonds Middle School. The teams, led by Mr. Marino, Mrs. Lynch, Mrs. Shea, and Mr. Walsh are administratively supported by Mr. Musselman at the Burlington Science Center. Their regional competition is scheduled for Saturday, November 17th at Blackstone Valley Regional High School from 8:00-3:00 for those interested in attending!

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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.

FLL MSMS Devilbotz

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!

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

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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.

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Exploring circuit systems with Mrs. Tate’s 6th graders. Where does the energy flow? What does it transform into? #NGSS

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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.

MSMS Devilbotz Rise and Inspire at Lego League Regional Qualifier November 19, 2017

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In just their second year the Devilbotz of Marshall Simonds walked away from their FIRST LEGO League regional tournament with hardware, winning the overall Inspiration Award and Judges Award while advancing one of their four teams to the state qualifier next month.

Coached by MSMS science teachers, Jane Lynch, Jourdan Marino and student mentors from the Burlington High Devilbotz, the team was an formidable presence in the stands overlooking the competition fields and in the “Pit.” Burlington red stood out against other teams from Arlington, Andover, Waltham, Belmont, Scituate, and the hosting City of Newton.

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“Los Chum Buckets” anxiously watch their robot leave the base!

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Savage Seven multi tasking!

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On the robotics fields, “Los Chum Buckets” and the “Savage Seven” led the team, with their robots performing multiple challenges in one string of code. Elsewhere, Burlington’s all-female, “Diamond Dragons” excelled in the Core Values challenge, where teams work together under tight time constraints to solve an engineering problem. The Diamond Dragons also earned the “Inspiration Award” as well, given to the team demonstrating extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit.

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Diamond Dragons and H2O Flow getting it done ✅ @bhsrobotix #omgrobots

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At the end of the tournament, it was team “H2O Flow” that took the top prize for Burlington, earning a trip to the State Qualifier next month and the “Judges Award” for their problem solving perseverance when told they could not use water in their presentation demonstration (but managed excellent scores anyway!)

Throughout the entire competition the teams demonstrated “Gracious Professionalism” toward each other and their fellow competitors. The event ended with a dance party seemingly led by the Devilbotz and Savage Seven’s, “Jackie the Shark.

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Finale dance party with Jackie the Shark at the lead. What a great day for MSMS Robotics! #bpschat

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Congratulations to all of our teams as the MSMS Devilbotz continue to rise in the region as outstanding competitors. Mrs. Lynch and Mrs. Marino were enthusiastic about the great gains the team made this year and hopes to see many return next year when a whole new set of challenges and real world problems await to be investigated and overcome.

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Block head!

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BHS Helpdesk Senior Constructs BEF Funded “Augmented Reality Sandbox” June 23, 2017

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After two years of planning, designing, and construction successes and setbacks the BEF-sponsored “Augmented Reality Sandbox” has become a physical reality! Several students from the BHS Helpdesk have put their efforts towards this project, a tool designed to engage and support student learning around earth systems, watersheds, topography, and geologic hazards just to name a few. It has been the work of graduating senior, Eddie Reiss that has brought the project from pen and paper to fruition. During his time in the fall as a HelpDesk member Eddie “speced out” the necessary hardware, investigated different style projectors and sandbox sizes before ultimately falling on the design featured above. In the closing weeks of his tenure at BHS he took on the construction of the project as an individualized learning “internship”. The completion of this project means that with some minor additional work to be completed over the summer hitching the computer to the base of the portable sandbox and running cables up one of the posts, the sandbox will be ready for classrooms in the 2017-2018 academic year! The sandbox will also be featured at the 2017 MassCUE annual conference in the fall.

The Burlington Science Center would like to thank LeRoy Wong for overseeing Eddie’s work over the school year and most importantly the Burlington Education Foundation, or “BEF” for their support of this grant and several other grants over the years that have allowed us to continue to bring innovative tools and curriculum to our K-12 students. To learn how you can volunteer or financially support the BEF visit their website: www.burlingtonedfoundation.org

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Now Enrolling Students for FIRST Lego League Summer Bootcamp! May 11, 2017

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Students from the MSMS Devilbotz team undertaking the same “Animal Allies” challenges boot camp participates will tackle this summer!

Burlington is hosting a FIRST Lego League “bootcamp” this year for students entering grades 4, 5, and 6th grades in the 2017/2018 school year. Participants will engage in a mock version of the 2016 FIRST Lego League competition, “Animal Allies” and work in teams to construct and program LEGO robots that navigate obstacles and complete challenges. Students will also explore how humans and animals currently depend on and impact one another and imagine how robots could play a role in improving this relationship in the future. This summer program is an excellent primer for students who might be interested in participating in FIRST Lego League teams, including the Marshall Simonds Middle School “Devilbotz” in the future.

Tuition for this summer session is $250. Transportation is to be arranged by parents.

To enroll your child, print out, complete, and send this flyer with required information completed to Burlington Public Schools, Attention to Rosemary DeSousa at 123 Cambridge Street by June 1st, 2017. Also include the health and release form linked here and a non-refundable deposit of $25 (the deposit is applied to tuition). The tuition balance is due by June 19th, 2017. This is the second announcement for this program and attendance is already at two-thirds capacity so register as soon as possible! Additional questions can be directed to Mr. Musselman (musselman@bpsk12.org) or Mrs. DeSousa (desousa@bpsk12.org)

BHS HelpDesk and Science Center partner to build “Augmented Reality Sandbox” December 9, 2016

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Students, Eddie Reis and Jinzhen “Hugo” Hu have been furiously working to bring a Science Center BEF grant vision to reality. As the holidays approach we checked in with these students to see how far they had come with the future Science Center crown jewel, the Augmented Reality Sandbox!

As you can see, the kinks are still being worked out and the entire project is not yet mobile, but we are confident this project will come to full fruition in the coming months as the technical and structural glitches get worked out. Eddie and Hugo also plan to add in the watershed and precipitation features to the software. The AR Sandbox will be on display and available for students to explore during the Hour of Code week scheduled for the week of December 12th.

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.

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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.

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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!

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Pig practice! #bpschat #firstlegoleague

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