New ‘Meteorite hunt!’ activity


Group member Dayl practicing the new find the meteorite activity. The box of rock samples include 13 non-Antarctic sourced meteorite fragments. Photo of Antarctic glacial morraine adds a bit of field context (we searched this site on the 2011 Miller Range ANSMET trip!). Image: ANSMET/KJoy.

Earth and Solar System has a new fun activity called ‘Meteorite hunt!’ we have been trialing with group members and put into practice at the Science Museum Lates event last Wednesday in London. Funded by a grant from the Royal Society  , as part of their Next Big Thing public engagement activities, we have designed a fun interactive activity to let people practice their scientific inquiry skills by finding meteorites that have been mixed in with terrestrial rock samples. The approach is to understand the physical characteristics of meteorites and use tools like a magnet or a magnifying glass to then test which samples are likely to be meteoRIGHTS and which are meteoWRONGS.

The activity is similar to the observation skills scientists need to hone and develop so they can locate meteorites in rocky terrains like rock rich glacial moraines in Antarctica. Of course it is a bit less cold and there is less of a chance of getting frostbite whilst doing our new activity!

We also decided to add in an element of competition to the Science Lates event to raise the stakes – teams of people were only given three minutes to find the 13 meteorite samples (from a box containing about 60 rocks including some tricky samples that have some of the characteristics of meteorites). Searchers we awarded one point for every meteoRIGHT found and minus one point for every meteorWRONG. We were really impressed with people’s judgement and decision making skills – two teams found 10/13 of the meteorite samples – meteorite hunting pros.

Update – The leader board is at the bottom of this page. How did you do? We were so busy we forgot to collect Twitter details, so tweet us your position to @EarthSolarSystm, #Meteoritehunt.

Thanks to the Royal Society for funding the event, to Sarah, Ricci and Romain for assisting at the Lates evening (we had a lot of fun meeting so many new people) and to Martin Goff of the British and Irish Meteorite Society for helping us source a diverse selection of meteorite samples to use for the activity.


Demonstrating the principal of detectability  with an iron meteorite – its magnetic properties and dense nature make it easy to identify.

Science Lates

Group member Romain setting the timer going for the Science Lates Meteorite Hunt! activity


Some more photos from the event (courtesy of Debbie Rowe / The Royal Society)




About Katherine Joy

Hello! I am Katherine Joy. I am part of the University of Manchester Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. More details about my research interests can be found at
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