Science Students Get Up-Close Look at Rare Meteorite Samples

St. Margaret’s students have a rare opportunity to get an up-close look at samples of various meteorites, as part of science lessons in both Lower School and Middle School. 

Grade 6 Earth science students spent class time observing and looking at several meteorite samples donated to the science department, which are shaped into spheres and cubes. The meteorite examination was part of Middle School science teacher Ashley Baffa’s second-quarter astronomy unit last week. 

The samples Mrs. Baffa shared included Muonionalusta, an iron meteorite thought to be 4.6 billion years old, found in Scandinavia in 1906; Campo del Cielo, an iron meteorite found in Argentina in 1576; Uruacu, a rare iron meteorite found in Brazil in 1992; and Sericho, a pallasite meteorite found in Kenya in 2016. There is also a .17-gram sample of Murchison meteorite that fell in Australia in 1969 which scientist claim contain the oldest particles ever found on Earth.

“Students were amazed, and frankly so was I, by the meteorite that is thought to be older than the solar system itself,” Mrs. Baffa said. “I shared with students that it is likely the oldest object any of us will ever see.”

The samples led to a rich classroom discussion about why meteorites are found in certain places, how they form, and the difference in terminology between meteors, meteorites and meteoroids. 

In addition to the grade 6 observation, science teacher David Beshk plans to utilize the meteorites in future Lower School lessons, including a grade 3 unit on the solar system. 

The meteorites were among several generous gifts to the science department donated by St. Margaret’s parent Scott McGregor, which also included a kilogram silicon sphere and an element display case that contains a majority of the periodic table elements either in their pure elemental form or in more stable compounds. 

“We are so appreciative of Mr. McGregor’s very generous contributions to St. Margaret’s,” said Edmund Herlihy, chair of the science department. “These rare and unique donations will enhance our science lessons across the school for years to come.”
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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