The scenario involved priceless government property and a police evidence vault. No, it wasn’t the latest thriller novel. It was a science lesson for students at Pattonville Heights Middle School.
Science students at Pattonville Heights recently concluded hands-on classroom activities that included the use of authentic moon rocks on loan from NASA. The activities are part of a unit of study on the Earth, moon and astronomy. The rocks - valued at $2 million but considered priceless because of their rarity - were used in Laura Hartsock’s science classes. The materials on loan included lunar soil and rock samples, as well as meteor samples, encased in lucite disks.
In order to borrow the materials from NASA, Hartsock had to complete a four-hour training with a NASA aerospace education specialist that included scientific and background information about the moon, the six Apollo missions that landed on the moon and the security needed to store and handle the lunar rock and soil samples. Hartsock used the samples for classroom labs that explored the lunar and meteorite samples microscopically, an experiment with crater formation on the moon and a presentation on the current theory of the creation of the moon.
Hartsock also had to devise a storage solution for when the samples were not in use that met NASA’s stringent specifications. That’s where the Maryland Heights Police Department came into play. When class was over, the Maryland Heights Police stored the rocks in their evidence vault until they were needed for the next school day. Hartsock worked with Det. Chris Ayres of the Maryland Heights Police Department to ensure the security of the rocks while here locally.
Pattonville Heights Middle School is located in Maryland Heights and is the feeder school for Bridgeway Elementary, Parkwood Elementary and Willow Brook Elementary schools.
To view a gallery of photos from the class event go to http://events.psdr3.org/Photo%20Gallery/2011-2012/NASA/index.html.