Aspen Middle School goes back in time |

Aspen Middle School goes back in time

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Thirty Aspen Middle School seventh graders listen to historian Larry Fredrick discuss Aspen's mining history as part of the school's partnership with National History Day.
Erica Robbie/The Aspen Times |

Eyes widened across the Aspen Middle School library as historian Larry Fredrick told students that the largest silver nugget mined in the world weighed 2,060 pounds and was discovered in Aspen at Smuggler Mine in 1894.

Prior to this, the largest silver nugget also was mined in Aspen, at the Molly Gibson Mine in 1893, Fredrick said.

Fredrick discussed Aspen’s mining era in front of seventh-grade students as part of Aspen Middle School’s partnership with National History Day.

National History Day is a nonprofit organization that offers history related academic programs to more than 500,000 middle and high school students around the world.

Aspen Middle School partnered with National History Day three or four years ago, Aspen Middle School English teacher Hallie Harrison said, and has added to its program ever since.

This year, for instance, is the first time the middle school is bringing in outside speakers as part of their National History Day program.

From the end of January through Feb. 8, local experts will teach students about the history of mountaineering, of Utes in the valley and of flight. A former History Channel writer and content director also will speak to students.

Aside from the talks, students also must complete a research paper and project as part of the school’s National History Day program.

Students may focus both their paper and project on any event of any significance that occurred more than 25 years ago, Aspen Middle School history teacher Adam Flatt said.

Flatt said that allowing students to select their own research topic is “such an intrinsic motivator because they can choose something that really intrigues them.”

Many students research their family’s lineage, Flatt said, and enjoy learning about the country their family originated from.

“Whether their uncle was a Nobel Peace Prize winner or their aunt survived the Holocaust, my favorite part of this is that students are actually researching and digging deeper,” he said.

Fredrick, who works mainly with young children, said that he thinks having speakers “brings the material to life.”

“They’re having contact with live people rather than a textbook,” Fredrick said. “It also validates what they read by having people verify it.”

The seventh-grade class will present their research papers and projects before their teachers and peers Feb. 25 in the Aspen Middle School library.