MOON rocks and meteorites landed at Queen Elizabeth’s Lower School, Crediton, last week as part of students’ interactive astronomy lessons.

The lunar samples, provided by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, enabled students to touch a 1.2billion-year-old piece of Mars and a 4.3billion-year-old nickel meteorite.

The samples 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 such as the one at Queen Elizabeth’s.

STFC chief executive 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, turning science fiction into science fact.

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

Science teacher Nick Baker said: “These lessons could be ones they remember for the rest of their lives and can lead our students on to taking astronomy at GCSE.

“Space science is a growth industry in the UK, so a future career involving space travel is not too far-fetched for these students.”