SPACE rocks dating back billions of years inspired a group of lucky primary school pupils to learn more about the universe.

The precious set of meteorites were loaned to Stanford in the Vale Primary School thanks to a link-up with the North Star-based Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The educational pack included a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars and a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite, which is only slightly younger than the earth itself.

Year 5 pupils at the Faringdon school got their hands on the rocks.

One of them, Charlie, said: “If I ever have children, I can’t wait to tell them that I held the moon.”

And Eddie added: “It was really amazing to be able to hold objects that have hurtled through space for so long.

“We are so lucky.”

Teacher Duncan Scott said: “The class thoroughly enjoyed this truly unique experience that provided a fantastic, hands-on context to their learning.

“It was awe-inspiring to be in the presence of such rare and fascinating samples.”

The rocks were collected during the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned missions to the moon.

During the missions to the moon, 382kg of material was brought back. Some of it was used to develop educational packs such as the one used by the school.

Such samples can help tell scientists more about the planets they came from and the packs sent to schools are aimed at encouraging students to become the next generation of astronomers.

The pack also included a new meteorite hunter’s kit, a teacher planning pack and web-based resources.

STFC’s executive chairman, professor Mark Thomson, said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer this unique opportunity to young people.

“It is not often they will be able to see close-up, and actually touch, such important fragments of science history.

“Samples like these are vital in teaching us more about our solar system, allowing us to confront theory with fact.

“We hope this experience will encourage the students to take up a career in science.”

STFC is the only authorised company to loan out lunar samples to educational and scientific organisations in the UK.