From the Moon to Aberdeen

Robert Gordons College pupils Sebastian, Katrina, Andrew and James get up close and personal with objects from our solar system
Robert Gordons College pupils Sebastian, Katrina, Andrew and James get up close and personal with objects from our solar system

PUPILS had a rare chance to view exciting samples of moon rocks and a collection of impressive meteorites at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, when they arrived for a week’s visit.

Pupils were able to enjoy a unique, interactive experience of astronomy during their lessons. Highlights included getting up close and personal with some hand-sized meteorites, enabling pupils 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 you will ever hold in your hands! Our solar system is only 4.6 billion years old.

James Taylor, 13 years old from Inverurie said, “It’s really exciting to see the actual samples from the moon. Especially as there are so few of them.”

Sebastian Roger, 13 years old from Aberdeen said, “I was taken by complete surprise when they arrived. It was a great experience that I will not forget”.

Katrina O’Donovan, 13 years old from Bieldside said, “The moon is very interesting and seeing the rock was an amazing experience.”

Andrew Macfarlane, 12 years old from Kingswells said, “It was very interesting to find out how much went into getting a spaceship to land on the moon and really cool to see the lunar samples under a microscope.”

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 like this one.

Mrs Dawn Pirie, teacher of Physics said, “This is the first time our pupils have had the opportunity to see and handle real rocks from space. For most of them, this is a once in a lifetime experience and we’re really thrilled with the response we’ve had from pupils, especially from our S1 Science Club. We hope to use these resources to enhance our pupils’ learning in Physics for many years to come.”

Mrs Jennifer Montgomery, Acting Head of College commented, “It is an exciting time for the Physics team at Gordon’s who are in their first year offering GCSE Astronomy to sixth year pupils. Pupils enjoy a large practical component which takes them outside to make observations of celestial phenomena. The course content ranges from our solar system and planets, to galaxy formation and the origins of the universe. The moon rocks and meteors on loan to the school tie in with the syllabus, as will the constellation and exoplanet activities at Science in the Quad.”

STFC’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor John Womersley 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.

“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!”