Moon Rocks Crashing in Plainview

Moon Rocks webPLAINVIEW – Dr. Sarah Hartman has always been fascinated by space. From an early age, stories of astronauts landing on the moon and the space race built a genuine interest in her. Unfortunately, the fact that she would need to be an astronaut and her tendency to suffer from motion sickness kept her from seriously considering a trip to space.

Still, as the dean of the Don Williams School of Education at Wayland Baptist University, Hartman has maintained that interest and as a NASA trained moon rock handler, she is now bringing official moon rocks to Plainview to educate people about materials found in space.

The public can view the moon rocks in the Van Howeling education building on the Wayland campus from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5. 

The exhibit includes two acrylic discs encasing samples of materials gathered on the moon as well as meteorites. NASA has only 300 sample discs that are used for study throughout the world. There are also two actual rocks that can be held, along with a vial of replicated moon dust.

From her personal collection, Hartman includes actual photos taken by the Apollo 10 manned space flight that orbited the moon prior to the first moon landing. She also has a NASA flight suit and a certificate that includes a sample piece of fabric from the Spirit of St. Louis, the airplane in which Charles Lindbergh made the first, solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hartman, who attended NASA’s space camp for educators, is making the rounds to several elementary schools in Plainview to talk to students about the moon, NASA and the space program. She was at Highland Elementary on Thursday and will visit Hillcrest as well. She is also looking at setting up times with other schools if scheduling permits. Hartman is also scheduled to talk about the moon rocks at the Plainview Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club.

Hartman had to complete a training course to handle the moon rocks which must be under guard while in public. She has a two-week window to display the rocks and must return them to NASA within the parameters set by the organization. While special precautions are taken, Hartman said people are allowed to handle the acrylic discs as well as the rock samples to get a close look at the materials. She is hoping the display will spark interest in children.

“This is something unique that is not really thought of often when it comes to science,” Hartman said. “It’s the hands-on aspect of teaching science and showing [students] when we talk about geology and rocks, and this is another form that they don’t always get to see. I also hope to connect them to NASA and the study of what’s out there.”


Top Photo: A sample moon rock is just one of the pieces people can see when on Tuesday, April 5, from 5-7 p.m. at Wayland Baptist University’s Van Howeling building.

Inset Photo: Dr. Sarah Hartman talks to Highland Elementary School students about NASA and the moon. She showed them official moon rock samples as well as a NASA space suit and photos that were taken by the crew of the Apollo 10 when it orbited the moon.