Henry Huff and Griffin Connolly learned how Jupiter’s rings formed, that the universe is 13.4 billion years old and the Earth is just a juvenile at 4.8 billion years old.
Mountain Middle School’s sixth graders presented four short plays Thursday evening to about 80 admiring parents and friends at the school. They were showing off what they’ve learned about the solar system, the universe and generally anything that has to do with space.
“We learned how moons and planets formed. We learned about mass, weight and gravity. You can’t have gravity without mass,” said Henry, who played the villain, Baron, in the first play of the night, “The Great Space Race.”
Henry, 11, is the son of Amy and Brian Huff.
Griffin, who played a spaceship team member competing in a race against the evil Baron, explained how large bodies of matter, even moon-sized bodies, violated Jupiter’s Roche limit. The Roche limit is the minimum distance a large satellite can approach a planet without being torn apart by its gravitational pull.
“They got crushed into little rocks. If they were farther out, they’d be moons,” said Griffin, 12, who is the son of Shawn and Kereth Connolly
Head of School Shane Voss has said at previous presentations that all of the school’s learning projects end with public presentations that help build students’ public-speaking skills and self-confidence.
“They present their learning publicly. It shows their mastery of the subject matter. It helps to teach what you’ve learned,” he said.
The whole idea is to make the night memorable to the students, to make their learning more meaningful and to reinforce an ethic of professionalism to the youngsters, Voss said.
Joshua Smiles, who teaches sixth grade humanities, said his students have been studying Japanese internment camps. They plan to make their public presentation by creating websites about the internment camps and presenting the websites to several Japanese-American groups on the Front Range.
“Our charter gives us the freedom to teach in creative ways,” he said.