Out of this world – pupils get to hold space rocks billions of years old

Pevensey and Westham School pupils were amazed to be shown pieces of Mars and the Moon
Pevensey and Westham School pupils were amazed to be shown pieces of Mars and the Moon
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A four billion-year-old meteorite was among the out of this world items on display at a school space event.

Children at Pevensey and Westham CE School were able to handle rare samples of moon rocks and even a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars as part of the school’s Fly Me to the Moon week.

The lucky children were able to hold some of the oldest objects touched by man – the solar system is 4.6 billion years old, so the chance to be face to face with a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite was truly awe-inspiring.

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.

These rocks are different to any found on Earth, and led to the discovery of three new minerals: armalcolite, tranquillityite and pyroxferroite.

Over the course of the week the school provided unique, interactive experiences of astronomy during lessons, and the school was open to the public on Tuesday (March 7) to see the amazing samples.

STFC’s Chief Executive Officer, Doctor Brian Bowsher, said, “This is a great opportunity for young people to be able to see, touch and really experience such important messages from space – turning science fiction into science fact.

“It’s an unforgettable experience to be able to hold such an important part of science history that has made such an incredible journey over millions of miles to reach us – and one we hope will inspire the scientists of the future!”

Alongside the samples, space specialists visited the school including East Sussex Astronomical Society, members of the Science and Observatory Centre in Herstmonceux, STEM Sussex and TecResort.

Headteacher Richard Thomas said, “We were delighted to be able to host our recent Fly Me to the Moon event and provide the children of the school and others in our local community with a once in a lifetime opportunity to hold rocks and pieces of other planets formed billions of years ago.

“Our rich and inspiring curriculum, in-part driven by a focus on high quality science teaching, is something we are extremely proud of and helps us ensure that our pupils are given every chance to be inquisitive about the world in which they live.”

For more information about the Science and Technology Facilities Council visit www.stfc.ac.ukorg