Eighth-graders at St. John Eudes Catholic School got a lesson Monday afternoon about what the moon is made of.
And it isn't cheese.
The children saw small rocks and dust particles collected from the moon and pieces of meteorites that struck the earth. Through a lecture and some experiments, the children learned that the moon is actually made of fine dust similar to flour.
Their lesson came from Nancy McIntyre, a biology teacher at the private Chaminade College Preparatory in West Hills. McIntyre regularly participates in teaching programs sponsored by NASA and travels to schools around the world to teach space science.
"I've always been interested in space, and I want to share that enthusiasm with children," McIntyre said.
She recalled the landing of the Apollo 11 lunar module in 1969 while she was watching cartoons as a young girl.
"How could they preempt the 'Flintstones'?" McIntyre asked as the children laughed. "I lived for Fred, but I knew it had to be important."
The United States has landed on the moon six times, and collected more than 2,000 pounds of moon rocks and dust, she said.
"The rocks were really cool to look at," said Jamie McKeon, 14. "They're the only things from the moon that we have here to look at up close."
Baking flour doubled as the moon's fine dust surface during some experiments. McIntyre threw rubber balls into the flour to show how meteors create the moon's craters. She used an old sneaker to explain how footprints leave a lasting impression on the lunar surface.
"I liked watching how craters are made on the moon," said Mary Jacoby, 14. "It was nice seeing how it happens instead of just hearing or reading about it. I understand it better now after watching it."