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Modeling Changes to Earth’s Surface: Where Would You Build? April 11, 2018

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Pine Glen fourth graders got an opportunity to play waterfront developer during their stream table investigation this week. After creating what was discovered to be a model stream/river and beach, students were given the opportunity to decide where they would build homes on the landform site.

Oh my delta!

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More modeling…

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Some went for big risk, big reward while others took a more conservative approach. In the end many realized that the power of moving water was a force to be reckoned with! Along the way they considered how their small scale model might provide evidence for how larger landforms such as canyons and deltas form on our Earth’s surface.

Some amazing Pine Glen geologist explaining the changes to their earth surface model. #bpschat #elngsschat

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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?”

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

Using Models to Investigate Forces & Motion September 27, 2016

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Students at Memorial using force and motion simulations! #bpschat

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In anticipation of Rocket Day 2016, fourth graders all over Burlington have been exploring forces and their effect on an objects motion. In a new twist on a tried and true “Tug-of-War” lesson, Mr. Musselman introduced PhET models to classrooms at the Francis Wyman and Memorial schools. Using their iPads, students were able to access the free models and explore the cause and effect relationship between the forces being applied by the tug-of-war participants and the effect on the large cart of candy in the middle. Check out these student pictures and videos to see how students constructed their own understanding of forces and motion through this very cool simulation!

Constructing explanations for how different forces effect the cart's motion. #bpschat #ngsschat

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Summer Robotics Students Launch into a World of Programming and Engineering July 29, 2016

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The Burlington Science Center’s summer robotics program has found its rhythm in its third year of operation. A mix of incoming third, fourth, and fifth graders joined the second session of summer programs at the Memorial Elementary School from July 18th – 28th.

Day 1 of our summer robotics program. Assembling the bot to NASA specifications! #bpschat

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During the first week, students engaged in a series of challenges as NASA Jet Propulsion Lab engineers charged with constructing the next Mars rover. Robots were built to exact “NASA specifications” before being programmed to travel precise distances, take tight corners, use touch and ultrasonic sensors to navigate unexplored terrain and light sensors to detect signs of valuable minerals or follow pre-constructed paths on the colony grounds. Each challenge was scaffolded to challenge the engineers to design robots and programs of increased levels of sophistication.

Team Red: Nick and Alan complete the Red Line Challenge! #devilbotz2876 #bpschat

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Along the way our students engaged in questions about what roles could and should robots play in our world both now and in the future. Students created and shared Explain Everything presentations illustrating their imagined worlds in which robots completed chores and cleaned up the environment, expressing both the benefits of a robotized society and the challenges (such as jobs and “money loss” that would be faced as a result.)

Mrs. Snyder's robotics crew taking in a quick read on the variety of ways robots play a role in our lives. #devilbotz2876 #bpschat

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Our students’ progress and accomplished feats were documented along the way on the Burlington Science Center instagram page. Check it out directly to see all of the fabulous work captured by our students!

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Kindergarteners “Protect the Popsicle” in Engineering Challenge June 14, 2016

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Mrs. Duncan and Mrs. Parnell are wrapped up their year long investigation of weather and temperature with a challenge putting students engineering skills to the test! Our newly developed “Protect the Popsicle” challenge pits students love for these summer treats against the ultimate source of light and heat energy, the sun!

Students in both classes investigated how heat causes many kinds of matter to melt before investigating the many kinds of shade shelters humans already use to stay cool, particularly in the summer sun!

Protecting the popsicle with our shade structures. What materials do we need? #elNGSSchat

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Students then designed and constructed solutions to the challenge of keeping a popsicle frozen in the sun with the help of a shade shelter. Students then considered how to test the shelters, ultimately deciding it would be best to put them out in a sunny spot outside because “we want to be challenged.”

Finally have a nice day for Mrs Duncan's students to test their shade shelters and protect the popsicles!

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The results were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Teachers poured what had melted after roughly 10 minutes into a graduated cylinder and kept the frozen contents in the plastic sleeve before asking students to consider how they could tell which shade shelters worked the best. Students were able to determine that their shelters worked well because “more freezepop was left in the plastic” than Mr. Musselman’s control popsicle left out in the sun. Then students counted up from their amount of melted popsicle to Mr. Musselman’s with the help of unifix cubes and other counters to determine the difference between the sunny and shaded popsicle!

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Thanks to Mrs. Duncan and Mrs. Parnell for working on developing and piloting this new kindergarten engineering challenge! We are excited to share it with all of the Kindergarten teachers next year! Check out Mrs. Duncan’s blog post for even more information and pictures on how the challenge went.

“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.

Exploring Earthquake Science with MSMS 6th Graders January 26, 2016

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The Science Center stretch into Marshall Simonds Middle School last week to share the science behind earthquakes with the MSMS 6th graders.

Mr. Carroll was kind enough to take pictures and video during the presentation and share them on the MSMS blog. After the show, Mr. Musselman set up the Burlington Science Center seismograph in the learning commons for all MSMS students to observe and investigate. Mrs. Richardson’s class tried it out today with earth-shaking results! Thanks to Library Media Specialist, John Carroll at the MSMS Learning Commons for sharing and posting these great pictures and videos!