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Youngsters receive ‘out of this world’ surprise package

PUBLISHED: 11:19 21 September 2018

Pupils from Rockland St Mary's Primary School discover moon rocks. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Pupils from Rockland St Mary's Primary School discover moon rocks. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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Pupils at a primary school in Norfolk were given the chance to handle rare nuggets of billion-year-old meteorites and mars rocks.

Pupils from Rockland St Mary's Primary School discover moon rocks. Picture: Victoria PertusaPupils from Rockland St Mary's Primary School discover moon rocks. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

In a series of interactive science lessons, students at Rockland St Mary Primary School in Norwich were given the unique opportunity to hold the rare samples and discover more about where they originated.

The package, provided free of charge by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), included a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars rock and a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite.

It is hoped giving students the chance to see the space fragments in person will inspire future astronomers and astronauts to pursue careers in science.

Zoe Marsden, who teaches years two, one and reception, said she found the STFC packs while she was looking for inspiration on maternity leave.

She said: “I knew we had a space topic coming up and as a school we are really committed to giving the students real life, hands on learning opportunities. For the moon landing topic I couldn’t think of a better way to bring the subject to life than with the moon rocks.

The kids knew a surprise was coming up but they had no idea what it was.”

The samples included in the pack are so rare that even the students’ parents were not allowed to be told the school was holding them until after they were picked up on Friday.

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.

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.”

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