Wigan pupils examine rare moon rock and meteorites formed billions of years ago

Excited pupils got their hands on rare samples of moon rocks and meteorites during a series of science lessons which were truly out of this world.

By Gaynor Clarke
Monday, 9th May 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 7:46 am

Children at St John’s CE Primary School in Abram were encouraged to reach for the stars and learn more about the universe during a week-long interactive experience of astronomy.

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They were given the unique opportunity to touch a piece of space rock and allowed to handle genuine meteorites.

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Pupils learned all about the moon rocks and meteorites

These rare samples were provided by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which provides educational packs to inspire young people to get involved in science and complement classroom studies.

The STFC pack includes a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars rock and a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite. It is unlikely that pupils will ever get the chance to hold an object older than this, as Earth itself was formed 4.6 billion years ago.

The packs have been recently updated to include a new meteorite hunter’s kit, new teacher planning pack and new web-based resources and online support videos for all age groups in primary and secondary schools.

The lunar samples were collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned space missions to the moon.

It was hoped the hands-on lessons would inspire pupils to become astronomers

During these missions, a staggering 382kg of material was brought back to Earth – mostly for use by scientists, but small quantities are used to develop educational packs like this one.

Samples like these can reveal a great deal about the planets from which they originate, but there is still much to learn – and STFC hopes these packs will encourage pupils to become the next generation of astronomers.

STFC’s executive chairman Prof Mark Thomson said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer this unique opportunity to young people.

"It is not often they will be able to see close up, and actually touch, such important fragments of science history.

A pupil takes a closer look at one of the rocks

"Samples like these are vital in teaching us more about our solar system, allowing us to confront theory with fact.

"We hope this experience will encourage the students to take up a career in science.”