St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School recently got a special delivery straight from the moon.
On loan from NASA for several weeks, lunar rocks and soil samples were delivered in a heavy-duty protective case to Barbara Gosney, STEM teacher at St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School.
The STEM program — a nation-wide movement in education to increase the passion and skills of students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math — was launched officially at St. Thomas School in 2012 with the opening of the Symbiosis STEM lab.
Ms. Gosney had to be certified at the Space Exploration Educators Conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in order to secure the rocks for her students to study as part of their STEM curriculum. The rocks, sealed in Lucite, are accompanied by copious materials that identify which Apollo Space Mission collected each one and what area of the moon each one represents.
In preparation for the arrival of the moon rocks, students began by studying the moon, learning to identify the locations where the Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 missions landed, and watching plenty of NASA videos.
The moon rocks have brought the surface of the moon up close to all students in junior preschool through fifth grade. NASA also sent “moon-like rocks” from volcanoes and other places on earth that students can touch and hold to give them a sense of what the lunar rocks would feel like.
As if the lunar rocks were not enough, NASA sent a second protective case of pieces of meteorites to study — pieces collected from Nebraska, Arizona, South America, and Russia.