‘Me­te­orite’

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - KAROLINE TUCKEY

RE­GION: Awa­hou School pupils found the large smok­ing rock, and three smaller crash sites, be­ing in­spected by teach­ers when they ar­rived at school.

A ‘me­te­orite’ that hit a Manawatu¯ school’s ten­nis court has been at­tract­ing in­ter­est from ex­cited vis­i­tors.

Awa­hou School pupils found the large smok­ing rock, and three smaller crash sites, be­ing in­spected by teach­ers when they ar­rived at their coun­try school in Po­hang­ina Val­ley, north of Ash­hurst, on Mon­day morn­ing.

It was taped off from closer in­spec­tion with a bar­rier of safety tape, with school staff hop­ing a sci­en­tist might visit to in­spect it.

Prin­ci­pal Matt Sch­midt said the school bus driver, post­man, par­ents and sev­eral neigh­bours joined pupils in try­ing to fig­ure out where the large rock came from and what it was.

Though the ‘me­te­orite’ was a set-up to teach the chil­dren more about sci­ence, Sch­midt said teach­ers did not want to give the game away in front of the chil­dren.

As they had not been able to tip all the adults off to the ruse, a few may have gone away quite ex­cited, he said.

‘‘Three of us were out early with rocks and ash and emer­gency tape, and I put some lighter fluid on it so it was hot and smok­ing when they ar­rived.

‘‘When they ar­rived their eyes were re­ally shocked, and the bus driver was go­ing ‘what’s go­ing on’, and hopped out for a look too, and told us about other places me­te­orites had fallen. We fig­ured this time of term, kids are get­ting tired, so how can we make sure they don’t zone out? We saw that this had been done in Eng­land.’’

The chil­dren were ‘‘buzzing’’, and had filled two gi­ant white­boards with ques­tions about the me­te­orite.

‘‘Some thought it was a me­teor, oth­ers thought it was a me­te­orite, and some were hav­ing a go dis­cov­er­ing what the dif­fer­ence is,’’ Sch­midt said. ‘‘Some chil­dren thought it was an alien egg and some­thing was go­ing to hatch out.’’

The mag­ni­tude 4.8 earth­quake near Welling­ton on Sun­day had added to the drama, and sev­eral peo­ple had won­dered if there was a con­nec­tion.

Nathan Drury, 10, said the ev­i­dence showed it was from space be­cause the trail it left in­cluded burned leaves in a tree in line with the gouges in the ten­nis courts. ‘‘The Jupiter and Venus en­counter – I think that fac­tored into the grav­i­ta­tional pull and the me­te­orite fell out... and one’s hit here.

‘‘I think that they hit many other places as well, be­cause I don’t think there’d be just one com­ing down.’’

Re­gan Mare, 9, hoped the me­teor might be worth $10 mil­lion be­cause they were so rare, or that there might be traces of alien DNA if it was an­a­lysed. ‘‘When I came up the drive ev­ery­one was go­ing ‘wow’.’’

Sch­midt said he thought the pupils would still be ex­cited about the topic once they had been told about his elab­o­rate ‘‘dad’’ joke, and the neigh­bours would for­give him when they re­alised the fun the chil­dren had.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ STUFF

Awa­hou School chil­dren, from left, Re­gan Mare, 9, Chelsea Hocken, 13, and Nathan Drury, 10, with the Po­hang­ina ‘‘me­te­orite’’.

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