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STARFEST: Research, Learn, Create, Stargaze

There are so many reasons to love our rural, riverside campus and recently we added another one to the list. On a cool evening in February, the new moon and resulting dark night sky provided the perfect backdrop for our inaugural STARFEST. STARFEST was born from the discovery that our First Grade students, led by Lower School Science Teacher Meghan Ferster and our Eighth Grade students, led by Middle School Science Teacher Heidi Usilton were both studying space and the solar system.
STARFEST is the culmination of weeks of classroom learning and associated projects for both grades. Students made models of the satellites, cross sections of stars, constellation books and more. Since collaboration comes naturally to our teachers, Ferster and Usilton decided to bring their classes together for an interactive, dynamic night of stargazing called STARFEST.

First Grade students partnered with Eighth Grade students to put their knowledge to work locating and identifying stars and constellations. At first, we were deterred by light cloud cover. However, the clouds dissipated and the stars revealed themselves. Students and their families were rewarded with views of Jupiter and Orion that they could view through telescopes, binoculars and with the naked eye. Students also incorporated technology for a more thorough understanding of exactly what they were viewing.

If you have been following Kent School on social media or reading our Osprey Outlook magazines, you know about our commitment to teacher professional development around Mind, Brain and Education science or MBE. MBE science affords our teachers the opportunity to teach the way students learn best and STARFEST is an excellent example of our MBE strategies in action. Students were given a voice to share their knowledge with other students. They applied their classroom learning in a real world situation. They were able to demonstrate their mastery of the subject by teaching other students about stars and constellations. By creating models, researching, writing and illustrating constellation books and using technology, lessons were presented in multiple modalities for a holistic teaching and learning.

STARFEST is an incredibly successful example of our commitment to student success and teaching excellence. Our students’ comments are proof of their deep learning and the importance of balancing joy and rigor for meaningful instruction.

"STARFEST was the BEST!"
"When I'm in Eighth Grade, I can't wait to make a space model" "Yeah, they were so cool"
"Did you see Jupiter? It was HUGE!" "Yeah, and it's so far away! It would be even bigger up close!"
"Did you see Orion at the end? It came out when the clouds left"
"Can we do that again?"