Lower Elements were encouraged to reach for the stars last week with the secretive arrival of a very special selection of lunar samples – genuine meteorites and moon rocks during a series of science lessons which were truly out of this world!

Pupils learnt about the Universe around us during a week-long interactive experience of astronomy and were given the unique opportunity to actually touch a piece of space rock not of this Earth as they were allowed to handle some genuine meteorites.

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 St Mary’s Hall pupils will ever get the chance to hold an object older than this, as Earth itself was formed 4.6 billion years ago.

The pack also included a meteorite hunter’s kit, a teacher planning pack and exciting web-based resources and online support videos for all age groups, primary to secondary.

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 these packs will help encourage pupils to become the next generation of astronomers.

Pupils were truly enthralled by the unique experience – NASA scientists in the making?