On 21 January keen scientists gathered at Highsted to meddle in the magic of science, encounter exciting demonstrations and shape their scientific skills. It was, once again, ‘Mad Science Saturday!’ Pupils attending 14 local primary schools, from Selling to Thistle Hill, took part in a wide range of intriguing activities throughout the day.
‘Mad Scientist’ Mr Stanley demonstrated the use of fuel in science (with fire and explosions!) as well as how to measure cockroaches; creating circuits; making rainbows; and even how to view tarantula skins under a microscope. The day was a mixture of demonstration in the morning and hands-on activities in the afternoon, with pupils eager to test out the science for themselves.
The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and commented how much they “…enjoyed trying lots of things that you really can’t do at home,” and concluded that they “…would one-hundred-percent come again!”
Oh Come All Ye Musicians!
On Wednesday 7 December Highsted Music Department held their annual Christmas Concert, which was packed full of music from classical to rock and pop to folk fusion. As well as the usual ensembles, there were two new groups performing in this year’s concert; the Year 9 Band and the Gospel Ensemble. School prefects Ellie S, Rachel E and Maisy C commented, “We enjoyed the Christmas concert this year because as a whole it had a very upbeat vibe about it and there was a massive range of different ensembles that anyone could get involved with.”
Following on from the success of the Highsted Christmas Concert, the Christmas Festival Concert was held on Monday 12 December. Now in its second year, the Christmas Festival Concert was designed by the Highsted Music Department to bring together all the wonderful young performers in our local community. This year’s concert saw performances of seven different pieces, all performed in collaboration with Highsted students, including Carol of the Bells, Viva la Vida, and Walking in the Air. The schools and groups involved in this year’s concert were: Highsted Grammar School, Borden Grammar School, Fulston Manor School, Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey, Tunstall Primary School, St Peter’s Primary School, South Avenue Primary School and the Sittingbourne Suzuki String group.
Local Kent Music Soundhub Leader, Lucy Duff, commented, “Pieces sounded stunning with such a large group of pupils and instruments”, St Peter’s teacher, Megan Michelle added, “Feedback from our parents was that they especially enjoyed the fact that everyone was performing together… Performing with the older students raised the standard and a couple of my students are now keen to join the school band as a result!” A great afternoon was had by all!
Music Society Masterclass Workshop and Concert
On Friday 7 October the Charlotte Ashton Flute Trio conducted an ensemble masterclass with a selection of chamber music ensembles from Highsted. Charlotte was recently appointed as Principal Flute of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 with a First Class Honours and the Principal’s Prize. Charlotte and her trio gave constructive feedback on ensemble performance and playing technique, working with the Highsted students to improve their chosen performance pieces. Year 10 music student, Elena J, commented, “This was a brilliant opportunity to learn important ensemble skills and to work with professional musicians. Afterwards, I felt much more confident about playing with other people in an ensemble than I did when practising with my sister beforehand.”
The Charlotte Ashton Flute Trio performed later in the evening in a concert for the Sittingbourne Music Society. They invited two of the Highsted chamber ensembles to perform in the second half of the programme, choosing a string quartet (Highsted students: Ellie S, Joely B and Laura M) and a violin duet (Highsted students: Elena and Freya J) to perform. The masterclass and evening performance were a brilliant success and all students involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Pupils of Highsted were given the theme of ‘Inspiration’ for the Harvest Festival 2016 and the standard of harvest boxes this year was truly inspirational. Following a number of significant events historically and in recent times, the diverse interest of each of the 30 tutor groups was evident in the creation of each box. The criteria that each box were to be judged on was simple yet effective with entrants being awarded a mark out of ten and the possibility of being crowned the winner for the following three criteria: relevance to theme; generosity; and creativity. There was an award for the overall winner to acknowledge successful consistency in line with the criteria set. Boxes were presented and judged in two assemblies.
The judging was almost as difficult as the creation of the boxes themselves and there were two assemblies to celebrate Harvest. Assemblies were led by members of the Head Girl team and pupils were granted the honour of a guest speaker in their Harvest assembly. School Governor Mr Jepson and Mr Abbey from the Salvation Army offered a valuable insight into the importance and meaning of Harvest in each assembly respectively. Following the professional judgement of boxes by Mr Jepson and Mr Abbey, the following entrants were crowned winners for:
Relevance to theme: F5 and R5
F5 created a tree with inspirational quotes and made reference to those in their tutor group who had inspired them in some way. R5 based their box on the Hudson River crash and made special recognition towards the pilot and crew for guiding the safe landing of the plane.
Generosity: C3 and K4
Both C3 and K4 donated a significant amount of food for harvest, as well as this there was a variety of food products which will undoubtedly help those in the local community.
Creativity: F4 and S2
F4 were extremely creative in their creation of the Hogwarts train from the Harry Potter series, their box even included the famous wall at the station. S2 based their box on the Disney castle and had a number of inspirational quotes and information on the accomplishment of Walt Disney.
Overall winner: C4 and S2
C4 made a significant effort in the creation of their box; based on globe success, they included a number of inspiration people and information on each of those included. The immense group effort from S2 was evident and they were the only tutor group to be win two categories for their harvest box.
Meddling with the magic of science
Thirty excited Year 6 primary school children from Sittingbourne schools were treated on Saturday to a dazzling display of colour and fire as they were introduced to some of the wonders of science at Highsted Grammar School. The budding scientists watched with bated breath as science teacher Michael Stanley showed them how to turn carbon dioxide from its solid form (dry ice) at minus 79 degrees Celsius to gas, creating in the process a mist as the air freezes, and how to create fire from the spontaneous reaction of permanganate and glycerol. They then had an opportunity to shape up their own scientific skills in a series of workshops, where they measured cockroaches at different stages of development, examined onion cells and micro-organisms in pond water through a microscope, made circuits and experimented with carbon dioxide, changing it from one form to the other.
Highsted student Danielle commented: “My table was where you measured cockroaches. This meant that some of the children were scared but I helped them. It was hard to get them to understand what a line graph is but it worked. I had a lot of fun.” Fellow Year 7 student Ayo added: “The children were really enthusiastic and especially liked hearing the buzzer on the circuit station.”
At the end of the session the children were awarded special Mad Science Saturday badges and enthused about the aspects they had particularly enjoyed, ranging from, “…the chemistry demonstration where we saw the froth and saw how acidic things were,” to “…making carbon dioxide foam,” and “…the chemical tubes because they were cool!”
Harvest 2015: Global Awareness
This year’s Harvest Festival focused on the general theme of Global Awareness. Each house was assigned a particular aspect of that theme: Chanel’s was Poverty, Eliot’s Climate Change, Franklin’s Migration, while Keller looked at Human Rights, Roddick at Animal Welfare and Seacole at Health. Competition to design the most visually arresting harvest box was fierce, and the quality of design so impressive that a box was selected from each house to receive five house points: Chanel 6, Eliot 4, Franklin 1, Keller 6, Roddick 5 and Seacole 3.
The judges – representing each of the recipient charities, The Salvation Army and the Sittingbourne Foodbank – chose three overall winners from these: Keller 6 came third, winning ten additional points for their house, Chanel 6 came second, gaining 20 extra points and Seacole 3 won 30 points for their creative effort with a Kent Air Ambulance design. Sian Mitchell from S3 said: “We came up with many ideas which we thought were relevant to our house’s theme of Health, but in the end we decided to create a Kent Air Ambulance, because it plays a key part in saving hundreds of lives every year. To make it, we used several boxes stuck together with glue and masking tape. We researched pictures so we could make our box look as realistic as possible. By doing this we could add extra detail.” She added: “Lots of people in the form helped to build the box. Everyone was happy with the finished product and glad that they could contribute to such a worthy cause.”
All donations have been shared equally between The Salvation Army and the Sittingbourne Foodbank.
Food for thought
Down Under experience helps Year 6 pupils
As new Year 6 pupils in Sittingbourne start on the year in which they must choose which secondary school will best suit their individual aspirations, abilities and personality, those girls who attended Highsted’s Down Under experience this summer have already had a head start with an unusual taste of secondary school life – on an Antipodean theme. They made and sampled traditional Anzac biscuits (originally made to send to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps serving in Gallipoli during World War I), created and decorated their own boomerangs, were treated to a display of exotic creatures from the southern hemisphere and even had an opportunity to take part in a Highsted version of ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!’, among many other exciting activities.
Around a hundred girls took part in the event, sampling a range of workshops and enjoying the unusual experience of an exhibition of Australian artefacts and animals including Macleay’s Spectre stick insects, bearded dragons, a blue-tongued skink, a carpet python, cane toads and even a stuffed crocodile! The students had the opportunity to see the animals up close and even to hold some of them, whilst learning key facts about their species and habitats. Year 7 student Katie B assisted with the exhibition by handling the animals so the Year 5 girls could see them. She said: “The day was fun for me to take part in as I got to see some new faces. I really enjoyed handling the animals and helping Miss Appleton with the exhibition.” Riannon D, who helped with the ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ activity, added: “I think the Year 5 students really enjoyed the Australian theme, especially learning about the different species of Australia as they also got to handle the animals.”
At the end of the day, the girls were able to show off the various products they had made, and to take them home in specially-designed gift bags on the theme. Summaries of the day ranged from ‘brilliant’ to ‘fantastic’, ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’, and many of the girls commented that they had learnt a lot. Assistant Headteacher and Head of Key Stage 3 Sarah Appleton, who demonstrated the animals, said: “It was a fantastic day – great to see students so enthused in their learning.”
Visitors to the school’s forthcoming Open Evening on 8 October will be able to see a display of photographs of the Taster Day events and to find out more about what it’s like to be a Highsted girl.