"He's not kidding when he says that," said his mother, Rosanna Craven, a remark echoed by Hubert Street School Principal Pat Cocucci. "He talks about it all the time."
So it is no accident that in winning a gold metal as the Hudson County Science Fair on April 16, the Empire State Building played a huge part.
Mitchell's project, titled "Is Older Really Better?," centered on the differences in structure between the Empire State Building, constructed in the early 1930's and the World Trade Center, constructed in early 1970s.
"I call the project 'Why the Empire State Building didn't fall down,' he said before the April 23 meeting of the Town Council, where he and two other students were honored for their successes at the Hudson County Science Fair.
All in all, five students won recognition this year: four from Clarendon School, and Craven from Huber Street.
"I'm very proud of Mitchell's accomplishment," Cocucci said, calling it a credit to Craven, his parents and his teachers.
Craven's project showed some of the fundamental structural difference between the two tallest structures in New York, and why the Empire State Building would have likely survived an attack better than the World Trade Center did.
Using photographs and models of the structures of both buildings, Craven showed how the two buildings differ, and how the frame design of the Empire State Building will resist the forces that caused the WTC to collapse. According to information from Craven and some reports, the World Trade Center collapsed because heat from the airplane-ignited fuel melted its supports, and the huge concrete slabs that made up each floor began to fall. The external metal supports that held up these floors on the outside of the building could not handle the increased weight, so as each floor fell down onto a lower level, it caused the steel beams to fail. The supports were installed on the outside in order to provide as much internal space as possible for tenants. Under normal circumstances, each support could handle the weight of each floor. But the combination proved deadly.
The Empire State Building was constructed differently based on an older style of construction with interior beams that could bear the weight of the floors above. During World War II, a small bomber plane did hit the Empire State Building, but caused no collapse in the structure.
Craven demonstrated the difference in the structures and the old building's abilities during the fair.
"I took a brick and put it on the model of the Empire State Building's structure, and it didn't fall," he said. "Then I put a brick on a model of the frame of the World Trade Center and it did fall."
Why you should brush your teeth
Two students from Clarendon School won a silver metal for their efforts at the Hudson County Science Fair as well. In a project entitled: "Why you should brush your teeth, and not because your mother told you to," Zachary Dreiss and Jeffrey Voss, both fifth graders, demonstrated how lack of brushing allows plaque to build up on the surface of the teeth.
Dreiss said he and his partner, Voss, used a cotton swab on people's teeth and showed the "yellow stuff" that had collected on it. Voss said this project made him appreciate the value of brushing.
"I don't want all that junk growing on my teeth," he said.
Mayor Dennis Elwell, in honoring the students, said that he was proud of them as well as the school system that produced them.
"These kids did a great job," he said. "They were competing against kids from all over the county."
Although not honored at the council meeting, two other Clarendon School students, Michael and Jordan Lienhard, also won special honors at the science fair.
"I've very proud of the work our students did there," said Ralph Merlo, principal of Clarendon School.