Kettering children handle a four billion-year-old meteorite

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

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 11:06 am
Children at Grange Primary Academy in Kettering got the chance to handle some moon rock

The week-long interactive astronomy experience at Grange Primary Academy was aimed at helping children learn more about the universe.

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

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

The UKs Science and Technology Facilities Council brought the rocks into school

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The lunar samples were collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned space missions to the Moon. 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 tell us a great deal about the planets, from which they originate, but there is still much to learn – and STFC hopes these packs will encourage students to become the next generation of astronomers.

STFC’s Executive Chair, Professor 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. 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.”

STFC is the only authorised source to loan lunar samples to educational and scientific organisations in the UK.

Head Teacher, Mr Chris Latimer, said: “Having genuine pieces of space rock and meteorites in school for the children to see and touch has really brought learning to life for them. We have recently been accredited with the National Primary Science Quality Mark and this continues to build upon the excellent work that staff at our school are carrying out in all areas of science.”