Mosaic fourth-grade student David Boulch, left, on Thursday at the Mosaic Academy in Aztec paints on a sheet attached to the underside of a picnic table as
Mosaic fourth-grade student David Boulch, left, on Thursday at the Mosaic Academy in Aztec paints on a sheet attached to the underside of a picnic table as 5th-grade student Alex Sutherlin, center, sits during a Quest program activity aimed at showing students how to paint like Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

AZTEC — Students at Mosaic Academy took a trip around the world Thursday as the school finished a nine-week focus on geography and enjoyed food and games from countries including Australia, Egypt and Ireland.

The "World's Fair" event consisted of presentations created by students based on about 11 countries the school studied as part of the "Quest" program, which the charter school organizes every nine-weeks, said K-2 teacher Suzette McKinnon.

During the event, students wandered from classroom to classroom tasting foods that included Irish potato casserole, and participated in activities such as Cinco Marias, a Brazilian children's game.

The "Quest" involves focusing on a scientific or social studies topic that brings groups of students from kindergarten through eighth-grade together to learn subjects that include probability and world cultures.

McKinnon said the older students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades learn about being role models as they collaborate with students in first, second and third grades.

"The kids really learn about how other cultures work," McKinnon said. "They work together to learn how to create games, projects, invite other people and deal with others. It's really good for their emotional and social skills."

In Dara Bode's classroom, the country of Australia was represented by Anazac biscuits and an activity where students' were challenged to throw a boomerang and have it return to them.

Bode said the students learned about Australia's culture along with the country's animals, food and more.

"You get to work with a different range of ages and we tend to do more hands-on projects," Bode said. "Just different ways of learning that aren't as standards-driven and are a little more open to what you can learn about."

Eighth-grader Riley Merritt helped set up the Egypt room where students ate dates and made paper replicas of Egyptian pharaoh crowns.

"It's really good to have different age groups because you get to work with the younger kids and teach them the things they didn't really get," Merritt said.

McKinnon said students learn responsibility and accountability by mixing the grades and different types of classrooms.

"We have autistic kids with gifted kids and they learn how to handle each other in the real world," McKinnon said.

Merritt has been attending the charter school since he was enrolled in first grade eight years ago when it was founded. He said he'll miss aspects of Mosaic.

"Just the hands-on stuff, I'm really going to miss that," Merritt said. "Instead of just learning about the Egyptian pyramids, we made many versions of them, the tombs and stuff. Learning as we went making the displays."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.