Reaching for stars in astronomy GCSE

Penwortham Priory Academy students have been loaned a piece of meteorite which is around  five billion years old.
Penwortham Priory Academy students have been loaned a piece of meteorite which is around five billion years old.
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Pupils at a Penwortham high school are being taught with materials dating back to the Dark Ages – and beyond.

Priory Academy may have undergone a million pound upgrade, but “workbooks” date back billions of years.

It is one of only handful of schools where pupils study GCSE astronomy and they are now literally reaching for the stars.

Two years ago, three students from the Crow Hills Road school sat the exam for the first time with Jamie Edwards, the world’s youngest person to create nuclear fusion when he was aged 13, celebrating an A* while David Robinson and Callum Cameron also made the grade.

Assistant head teacher Heather Young also took the exam, got top marks and is now a member of Preston and District Astronomical Society.

PADAS has acquired some meteorite found in the Western Sahara Desert and has been certified as a type called ‘Chondrite’ believed to be around five billion years old and has loaned it to the school

Priory, which boasts state-of-the-art £750,000 open space science labs with their own ‘universe’ on a ceiling, is the first school to get its hands on the rock.

Four Year Nine students are taking Astronomy GCSE this year – May Robinson, Miya Atherton-Patel, Verity Buckley and Colin Chan –and are using the meteorite to help them.

May said: “It’s amazing. I have always had an interest in the stars so it’s great to be able to take it to GCSE level.”

PADAS Secretary Graham McLoughlin: “The PADAS 
meteorite is a NWA 308g Chondrite meteorite found in the desert of North West Africa. Chondrites are some of the oldest space rocks left over from the formation of our solar system and contains iron.

“It was purchased to give members the opportunity to view and examine a piece of space rock.”