Call it bad science, call it curiosity, call it what you will - but Jace Carlson, 11, is not entirely convinced Pluto is a planet.
This fifth-grader's theory is that Pluto may be more like other strange objects - Sedna or Quaroar, for example - orbiting around the sun at the cusp of our known galaxy.
"Sedna is the biggest object discovered since Pluto," Jace said. "They don't know if it's a planet. They're still debating whether Pluto is a planet."
But due to several weeks of instruction from fifth-grade teacher Kinkade DeJoseph, Jace not only knows about the planets and other astronomical objects, like moons, supernovas and red and white dwarfs, but can talk intelligently about them.
"We know so much because while we were hanging everything up, we had to talk to everyone else about what they were doing," said his classmate Siara Hassey.
Jace, Siara and 26 classmates gathered after school one day last week to fit their papier-mâché duct-taped universe in a corner of the Bordewich-Bray Elementary School library. A black canopy draped over poles hides the planets inside.
"They did a lot of research," said DeJoseph, a math and science teacher. "Our class did the project, but it was really for the whole school."
Although the planets fit into the corner of the library, their distances from each other and the sun are based on true proportions.
In this library galaxy, one inch equals 20 million miles - meaning the first four planets are close to the sun, the rest dangle in between and Pluto is far across, lost in front of a slew of bookbinds. Siara says she has to point it out.
"I knew it was very small, but I thought it was a lot bigger than this," she said.
Since last week, DeJoseph's students have been sharing their knowledge with younger students at the school.
"The thing they want to know most about is Jupiter," said Siara. "And they keep asking why Earth is so small. Everybody thinks Earth is the biggest planet because we have life on it and everything, but it isn't. They don't realize it's so small."
The school's parent-teacher association, Mills Fabrics and others like Tammy Fulmer, who sewed the canopy, helped with the project.
"I think the phrase 'That we're just a dot in the universe' is too big for us," Siara said. "We're less than dot."
"We're just a speck," Jace said.
DeJoseph jokes that the solar system will remain up until next week or until gravity pulls it down.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.