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Etan Bard, 13, watches as teacher Romy Kerstetter uses a model to show how the rockets attached to the Apollo missions propelled astronauts into space.
Etan Bard, 13, watches as teacher Romy Kerstetter uses a model to show how the rockets attached to the Apollo missions propelled astronauts into space. (Teri Weaver / S&S)
Etan Bard, 13, watches as teacher Romy Kerstetter uses a model to show how the rockets attached to the Apollo missions propelled astronauts into space.
Etan Bard, 13, watches as teacher Romy Kerstetter uses a model to show how the rockets attached to the Apollo missions propelled astronauts into space. (Teri Weaver / S&S)
Eighth-graders at Seoul American Middle School look at samples of moon rocks on Friday.
Eighth-graders at Seoul American Middle School look at samples of moon rocks on Friday. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Size matters, according to Mr. Honeycutt’s eighth-grade science class.

On Friday, these students at Seoul American Middle School were steadfastly blase when it came to looking at thumbprint-sized samples of moon rocks that date back more than 4 billion years.

But a picture of the 200-foot-tall rockets needed to slingshot astronauts into space four decades ago drew unintended gasps from the teenagers.

“Whoa,” the students whispered before quickly passing the rocks around the room.

The school’s librarian, Romy Kerstetter, gave the presentation to Sonny Honeycutt’s class, one of several lectures she gave about the moon rocks on Yongsan this week.

About five years ago, Kerstetter attended a two-week NASA seminar and received certification to borrow portions of the 800 or so pounds of moon rocks that astronauts have brought to Earth.

A few weeks ago, she requested that samples be sent to the Department of Defense Dependents Schools. She shared them with middle school classes last week and plans to show them off to elementary students after Columbus Day.

Before bringing out the samples Friday, Kerstetter gave a slide show about the moon and NASA’s six successful landings there. The last time Americans landed there was 1972, she said. But the footprints that they and their predecessors left should be there for millions of years.

“There’s no wind on the moon,” Kerstetter said. “There’s nothing to cause erosion.”

The rock and soil samples actually are no bigger than a thumbprint. They are enclosed in a plastic disc, labeled as breccia (the results of meteor impacts), basalt (lava) and anorthosite (rock that is more than 4 billion years old). Kerstetter passed them around with a magnifying glass.

“These are actual, national treasures,” she said.

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