PUPILS had an out of this world experience when they got their hands on rare samples of moon rocks.

Holmwood House School in Lexden hosted a series of science lessons involving meteorites.

Pupils were given the opportunity to touch space rock including a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars rock and a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite from the asteroid belt.

These rare samples were provided to the school free of charge by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council which provides educational packs to inspire young people to get involved in science.

The pack contained lunar samples which were collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned space missions to the moon.

During these missions 382kg of material was brought back to Earth, mostly for use by scientists but small quantities have been used to develop educational packs.

Pupils spent time examining samples which included Breccia, Orange Soil and Mare Soil and compared them to similar samples found on Earth, such as Basalt.

They enjoyed testing the meteorite samples for magnetism and learning about their journey from being meteoroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere to meteorites that hit the Earth’s surface.

Year 5 pupil Max Boulton said: “The meteorite was very heavy and we found out it was attracted to magnets.

“It was really exciting to be able to hold actual lunar samples and a meteorite so old.”

The STFC’s executive chair Professor Mark Thompson was thrilled to be able to offer this unique opportunity to young people.

He said: “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.”