Hawai'i Space Grant Consortium, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, 1996

The Lunar Disk
Teacher Page

To carefully look at, describe, and learn about the origins of the six lunar samples contained in the disk.


The six Apollo missions that landed astronauts on the Moon returned a collection of rocks and sediment samples weighing 382 kilograms and consisting of more than 2,000 separate samples.

Each lunar disk contains six labeled samples of lunar material embedded in a 15-cm plastic disk. The Lunar Sample Disk package contains the disk, descriptions of the samples, annotated color photographs, a copy of the activity guide called "Exploring the Moon," and a slide set.

To borrow the disk, educators must first attend a short certification briefing on secruity requirements and handling procedures. This is the same certification as for borrowing the Meteorite Sample Disk. These briefings are given by NASA staff at locations around the country. After certification, educators may request a loan of the disks for periods of one to two weeks. Written requests should be sent to the NASA Educator Resource Center in your geographic area at least one month before the requested loan date. Spacelink has all the addresses and contact numbers for these Centers.

Spacelink also has the activity guide, NASA publication EG-1997-10-116-HQ, on-line at: Exploring the Moon.

To order the slide set separately, please contact CORE.


First, do the "Reaping Rocks" activity or spend time on a basic unit on rock and mineral identification.

Read the rock descriptions provided with the Lunar Sample Disk.

Review and prepare materials listed on the student sheet.

Each student will need two copies of the "Lunar Disk Sample Chart," there is room for three samples per page. Use of magnifying lenses or a stereo microscope would greatly enhance observations.

Have on hand the students' "My Own Rock Charts" for comparisons to the lunar samples. You may also want to collect some sediment from the school yard to display on a glass slide. Students could then compare this sediment to the lunar samples. Most likely, evidence of life will be seen in the school yard sediment under magnification, including plant matter, bits of plastic, fibers, etc.

In Class

The Lunar Sample Disk is a national treasure and students need to be reminded about the proper way to handle it. The disk must be in your sight during use.

Encourage students to describe the samples with as many adjectives or descriptive phrases as possible. The "Lunar Disk Sample Chart" will help students organize their observations and interpretations.

Note: The name of each sample is labeled on the disk and may be entered on the chart under classification. The sediment samples, instead of being labeled regolith, are labeled "soil." Remined the students this is a misnomer because there are no organic materials in lunar regolith.

Ask the students if their predictions of the Moon rocks were accurate.


By comparing the lunar samples with their own rock collections, students can discuss the similarities and differences between Earth and Moon rocks. Discuss the various ways that rocks are formed on Earth and the Moon.

Go to The Lunar Disk Student Pages.

Go to The Lunar Disk Sample Chart.

Return to The Moon Activity Index.

Return to Hands-On Activities home page.