Pupils get hands on a little piece of space

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Pupils at a city school have been mooning around in class this week.... but there were no complaints.

Staff and pupils at Archbishop Temple CE High School had a chance to get to know the moon when rare samples of moon rocks and a collection of impressive meteorites landed at the Fulwood school.

Harrison Dell, 12, takes a look at rock samples from the Moon

Harrison Dell, 12, takes a look at rock samples from the Moon

The school pulled off a major coup which enabled pupils to enjoy an unusual, interactive experience of astronomy during their lessons.

Highlights included getting up close and personal with some hand-sized meteorites, enabling students to touch a real piece of space. Included in the educational pack is a 1.2 billion year old piece of Mars and a 4.3 billion year old nickel meteorite – the oldest object ever to be held in human hands.

The lunar samples, provided by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) were collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned space missions to the Moon.

A massive 382kg of lunar material was brought back to Earth - mostly for use by scientists in their studies of the moon, but small quantities are used to develop lunar and planetary sciences educational packages.

The collection is so rare and irreplaceable it was kept under wraps for the week and staff had to stick to tough security guidelines to avoid any mishaps.

Senior science technician Carol Taylor said the process to get the rock to the school started last summer and the St Vincent’s Road school have to undergo a series of security checks before the “secret” package was eventually delivered under wraps.

Carol said: “Unfortunately it was not possible for every child to have the NASA experience however for those luckily enough to be involved it gave them a real sense of perspective to be able to hold in their hand things older than the Earth.

“It has inspired them to think about their own lives and not least it has taught them that scarcity causes things to be valued highly.

It was a real privilege to be in charge of items which are irreplaceable and therefor priceless but rather nerve-wracking too.”