Kings Monkton School pupils reach for the stars

Pupils had the chance to examine moon rocks and meterorites thanks to the Science and Technology Facilities Council

A rare collection of moon rocks and meteorites landed at Kings Monkton School in Cardiff last week, enabling pupils to get their hands on real pieces of space.

Pupils enjoyed a unique, interactive experience led by Kings Monkton’s Head of Science, Chris Remigio, where they used geologist lenses to magnify pieces of moon rock for closer inspection and learned about how the artefacts were first formed billions of years ago. The pieces on show included a nickel-iron meteorite found in Argentina that was 4.5 billion years old, and a meteorite fragment found in Africa.

Pupils also had access to samples of rock and soil taken from the moon, excavated during the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Orange Soil thought to have been formed by a lunar volcanic eruption 3.5 billion years ago.  While much of the 382kg of lunar material brought back by NASA is used for scientific research, small quantities have been allocated to educational packages for schools, with a vision to inspire scientists and engineers of the future.

The collection was provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which offers free, short-term loans of the lunar samples to schools across the UK.  This year, Kings Monkton is the only school in Wales to take advantage of the opportunity.

Chris Remigio commented: “The pupils have shown a real sense of intrigue when exploring the lunar samples and it’s great to see such hands-on interactions with modern science. This has been a money-can’t-buy experience for them. I’d definitely urge other schools to take up the opportunity to give their pupils this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Principal of Kings Monkton School, Paul Norton, added: “The staff at Kings Monkton are continually looking for new and exciting educational experiences to offer our pupils, so of course, we were only too happy to play host to this rare collection. Fun and interactive learning opportunities like this are such an important part of a child’s education. ”

Pupils and staff alike took time out of their weeks to visit the laboratories at Kings Monkton, experiencing a part of science history first hand.

Chief Executive Officer of the STFC, Dr Brian Bowsher, said: “This is a great opportunity for young people to be able to see, touch and really experience such important and exciting messengers 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.”

The STFC offers a free of charge, short-term loan of the lunar samples to educational and scientific organisations within the United Kingdom.

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