Friday, May 20, 2016

Tracking with the 5th Graders

The Activity:  

Each month we work with the 5th graders out in our school forest.  For the month of January, we prepared a tracking activity.  We split into 6 groups with 6 different routes to the Outdoor Classroom, so we wouldn’t bump into one another in the forest.  We then had them try to identify 7 different tracks using a variety of observations.  They would start with the basic shape and pattern of the track, and then they would use a tracking book as a resource.  When they think they have the answer, they would come to their high school helper to see if they are correct. If the answer was wrong, we worked with them to understand why. 

Once they had found all of the different tracks, they had to develop questions about one set of tracks.  For example, if they found a deer track, they might ask questions like, "Is it a boy or a girl?", "How old is it?", or "Where is it going?".  Together, we might be able to answer some of the questions that they created using research and our resources.  But that isn't really the point!  The point is to be curious and to be really good at asking questions.  Even if we don't have the answer today, we may still be able to find it out in the future.

After we’re done tracking we cooked hot dogs over a fire.The reason we did is they had something to look forward to help them behave. Since some groups finished early, we had all the fifth graders play a game called camouflage. That way we can keep them busy and moving in the cold weather, but they get to have a lot of fun while doing it. We finished the day by circling up and reflecting on how the day went.

Written by Isaiah

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


 Here at the STAR Program we have the ability to be able to have a garden, and for it to be a part of our curricular activities. Each student gets to choose one or two plants to grow in our garden that we would like to use to make food, and also for our school cafeteria so that it can be a part of our school lunches. 

We started this year's garden  the week of 3/13/16. We have a grow table that works great and allows us to start growing vegetables earlier than other people do. When the ground is not frozen anymore, we can just plant anything that already has a sprout going.

We start the process by getting soil trays and putting good potting soil into them. Then we would proceed to plant the seeds for the crops we want to grow.  Lastly, we put the trays under the grow table, flick the switch, water them, and then we are in business for growing vegetables.

Written by Robby

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pruning the Apple Orchard

We went to the apple orchard, and we pruned the apple trees.  As a result, the trees can grow bigger and better apples.  During harvest time next fall, we can pick them for the school cafeteria, and to use in the recipes we make at the STAR program.  If we have a good crop, there will be plenty of apples on the trees and we'll be able to eat them whenever we're in the school forest.

     This is how you prune an apple tree:

-First and easiest, you cut out the dead branches.
-Next, cut any branches that are sticking up towards the sky. These are called suckers and will "suck" the tree's energy by trying to grow upwards instead of producing fruit.
-Finally, branches that are wrapped around the other branches like grape vines also need to be cut.  This will let the sun get to the buds so the buds are able to grow into flowers, then apples.

While there are many other reasons and ways to prune an apple tree, these are the most important steps to take (especially if it has been a long time since you last pruned the trees, as was the case with our school forest).
As with much of our work at the STAR Program, we will work for the food that we eat.  It gives us an appreciation for where our food comes from and what it takes to grow it.

Written by Zach

Monday, March 21, 2016

Overnight Yurt Trip

  The first thing that we did when we arrived on the site was meet this dog that was black and white and had two different colored eyes- one blue and one brown. Then we met the lady that told us where we needed to go to see the animals and where to go to be at our camp site. We than went and visited with the pigs for a few minutes. Once we arrived at our yurt, we first set up our stuff and ate lunch. After lunch we went for a hike that lasted about an hour and a half. Later that night we watched the sun set over the mountain tops and sat quietly for about fifteen minutes just taking in all of its glory. To wrap up the day we ate dinner and played cards. 

The second day I woke up and went outside and watched as the sun rose. We ate breakfast and had some time to pack up our things and to have some personal time. So in my free time a few of us went on a hike. We ended our trip by eating lunch and had some reflection time and a chance to pack the rest of our things.

This trip was an incredible experience and it meant the world to me to stand in an open field on a high elevation and watch the sun rise and set. The weather was pretty great the whole time that we were there. The view that was in front of our Yurt was just breath taking. There was a spot that I would go to just watch the view and to think about anything that was going on. At times I had too much time to think but it felt good to just feel the breeze over my face. This trip meant a time to just get away and to just enjoy life.            

Written by Sam

"What I'm Thankful For..."

When we were having our Thanksgiving breakfast out in the woods, each and every one of us spoke for a few moments about what we are thankful for.  I think that our willingness to talk about what we are thankful for shows how we are comfortable with one another and how we are kind of like a family. It is great to see and feel how connected we are when we are having fun and things are good. There may be some hardships, but we are able to work through it.

I liked best how people were able to open up and share.  I am grateful to experience the effort and kindness people show when they really want to, even if it isn't easy for them. We all had a great time, and I think we all had fun.

Written by Justin

Friday, March 18, 2016

Passion Project #2

 A Passion Project is something that we do each quarter at the STAR Program.  Whenever we start learning about a certain time period in history, each one of us will have to pick a topic that we are passionate about, but that still connects to what we are learning.  These projects are very open ended, which means that we end up choosing things that we can make, cook, carve, and build. One of the main points of this type of learning is to see what it was like to live in an earlier time and what it would be like for us to try to learn those ways.

It is also an opportunity for us to see how hard life was and to know how much work they had to do to get one simple thing, like a wooden fork or spoon.

What makes this Passion Project so much better than other projects is that it is a hands on and not just a Prezi or something like that. We get to learn how to do things for ourselves, and not just having a teacher doing it for us.  Also, once we learn our skill or craft, we can do this when, and wherever we feel like it.

It is also really important that you get to choose what you want to learn about and present.  All of the normal research project components are there, but it’s actually fun when we get to do something that we really care about. A great part of the Passion Project is that sometimes you can work together if someone else wants to do the same project as you, or if you've chosen something that is big or time-consuming.  This helps to develop team building, which is important, but you can also have fun with your partners while you're working. 

Written by Robby


During the second quarter of our school year at STAR, we have done a range of activities that have taught us things that are important to our education. One of the most eye-opening things that we learned about was the true significance of Thanksgiving and the real story of how it came to be.

The myth of Thanksgiving as we know it is a lie.  While the Pilgrims and natives did get together to eat a meal, it was less of a friendship and more of a "political alliance".  In many ways, the Pilgrims didn't really contribute to the meal; they were struggling to survive and were dependent upon the support of the natives.  After the first Thanksgiving, many years passed before it was celebrated again.  This time, the  reason we celebrated it was to celebrate several massacres of native people by European settlers.  It wasn't until Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday during the Civil War, in an attempt to bring people together, that it became the holiday that we know it as today. It is important to learn about the history of these holidays. What we are taught when we are younger about these holiday are much different then what we are learning today these historical events.

With this being said, there is still nothing wrong with enjoying a nice meal with friends and family, especially if you take the time to be thankful for everything that we have.  That is what we do in the STAR Program.  On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, the STAR Program spent a morning up in the woods making a thanksgiving breakfast. As a team, we each took jobs and made this delicious meal. Some of the jobs were doing dishes, cooking, videotaping, maintaining the fire, and collecting fire wood. The food that we prepared consisted of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and hot chocolate.

It is nice to have a nice breakfast with a group of people every once in a while.  This is especially true if they are people that you don’t eat a nice meal with often. Eating together makes it so that we are a more united group and can help to forget some of the stress that may be going on in our individual lives at that moment. It also gave us an idea of what it was like to cook an entire meal outside. Down at the regular school, never once did we have a day to just cook a meal and enjoy a sense of what it was like to take a break from sitting at a desk all day long. Making delicious food engages more than sitting in a class room and being talked to for an hour and receiving home work at the end.

Coming here to STAR and doing some of the things that we do gets me excited to come. The only time regular school was this exciting was when we would go on a couple field trips a year.  

Written by Sam