HARRISON, N.Y. -- It's not an episode out of Star Trek. Meteorites and lunar rocks are actually finding their way into science classes at Louis M. Klein Middle School.
That's because one of the Harrison middle school's science teachers became a Certified Lunar Rock and Meteorite Specialist through NASA and became one of a few teachers in America to be able to requisition lunar rocks for his classroom for a couple of weeks, according to Monica Miles, a spokeswoman for the HarrIson Central School District.
LMK Middle School eighth-grade science teacher Fred DePalma spent his winter school break getting his NASA certification becoming a Certified Lunar Rock and Meteorite Specialists from NASA and will now be able tto have his students study the actual rocks and lunar samples that astronauts brought back to Earth from the Apollo moon missions.
“The moon rocks are national treasures,” DePalma said. “Only certified specialists are allowed to have these and they travel with their own security protocol. We will be the only school around to have access to these samples.”
The lunar rocks, particles and dust will be on display in DePalma’s eighth-grade classroom until Tuesday and coincides with the curriculum unit of rocks and minerals. DePalma said he's excited to apply his NASA learning to excite students about soil samples, pieces of meteorites that are found against the Antarctica snow, the differences between the “light and dark sides” of the moon and space travel.
“Our students’ perception of space is what they see in movies such as Star Wars, Interstellar and The Martian,” he said. “Growing up, we were captivated by the astronauts leaving Earth and actually landing on the moon. I tell my students that when we landed on the moon, I was in the eighth grade. I was where they are today. The astronauts were our rock stars – our heroes.”
While at NASA in February, DePalma also received hands on learning centered on the new James Webb Telescope that is scheduled to launch into space in the fall of 2018.
“The universe is beautiful with astounding colors and patterns," DePalma said. "There is certain romanticism to it. I hope to generate a little passion in my students with this connection. All you need is one.”