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