Study Buddy (Explorer): When moon rock found by Apollo 11 astronauts arrived in Hong Kong in 1970

  • Each week, Study Buddy Explorer presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
YP |

Latest Articles

OpenAI’s ChatGPT will ‘see, hear and speak’ in major update

Make these Japanese chicken meatball skewers at your next family dinner

Why farmers in Japan are returning to ‘fertiliser from a person’s bottom’

Hong Kong’s teacher shortage is forcing primary schools to hire untrained candidates

The Lens: Japan’s Johnny Kitagawa sexual assault scandal was hidden in plain sight

American astronaut Tom Stafford (right) at the Moon Rock Exhibition at Ocean Terminal. Photo: SCMP

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] “Hong Kong people will have their first chance next Saturday to look closely at a piece of the moon,” reported the South China Morning Post on December 28, 1969. “One of the rock samples brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts last July will go on display in [...] Ocean Terminal.”

[2] “The specimen will be set on a three-pronged stainless-steel mounting, sealed in a transparent plastic hemisphere filled with nitrogen. This will simulate the oxygen-free moon environment and prevent any change or erosion by oxidation. The lunar rock is one of six made available by the [United States space agency] National Aeronautics and Space Administration for public viewing in different parts of the world.”

[3] In another Post article that day, Oliver Schaeffer, a professor at the State University of New York, was quoted as saying that “these rocks are almost as old as the universe itself, which is estimated to have been formed 4,700 million years ago. Earth’s oldest rocks are about 3,300 million years old”.

[4] The report continued, “The moon will be a natural laboratory in which to study clues to the birth, age and evolution of Earth and the other planets of the solar system; and it could give insights into the evolution of the universe itself.”

[5] On January 4, 1970, the Post reported that “crowds were straining at the ropes [...] waiting for Apollo 10 astronaut Thomas Stafford, United States Consul-General Edwin Martin and journalists to complete their half-hour inspection at 10am.”

[6] “Police led people in batches down the long rope barriers towards the rock [...] let them hear pre-recorded descriptions of it in English and Cantonese, let them browse among colour slides and photographs of the Apollo 11 landing and then hurried them through the exit to make room for others.”

[7] On January 10, the paper reported, “A total of nearly 250,000 people have seen the rock since the exhibition opened.”
Source: South China Morning Post, January 25


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What did Hongkongers have the chance to look at according to paragraph 1?

2. Why does the specimen mentioned in paragraph 2 need to be “set on a three-pronged stainless-steel mounting, sealed in a transparent plastic hemisphere filled with nitrogen”?
A. to prevent any damage done to the specimen
B. to keep the specimen from being in contact with oxygen
C. to mimic the moon’s environment
D. all of the above

3. At the time, how many lunar rocks in total did the US space agency allow people around the world to see?

4. Read paragraphs 3 and 4, and decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given.
(i) The rocks found on the moon are close to 3,300 million years old.
(ii) A close study of the moon can provide us with answers about how Earth evolved.
(iii) Scientists plan to study other planets to learn more about how the moon was formed.
(iv) Schaeffer said he believed the rocks found on the moon were formed at the same time as Earth’s oldest rocks.

5. What were Stafford and Martin most likely inspecting according to paragraph 5?
A. the crowd waiting to enter Ocean Terminal
B. the ropes separating the crowd from the exhibits
C. the rock sample on display at Ocean Terminal
D. none of the above

6. What does the phrase “straining at the ropes” in paragraph 5 suggest about how the crowd was feeling?
A. eager
B. generous
C. confused
D. worried

7. List three exhibits that visitors could experience at the display in Ocean Terminal according to paragraph 6. (3 marks)

8. According to paragraph 6, why did police have to hurry people through the exit?

9. How long had the exhibition been open when the Post reported that nearly 250,000 people had seen the rock in paragraph 7?
A. less than a month
B. half a year
C. one year
D. two decades

The moon rock sample on display at Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong in January 1970. Photo: SCMP


1. a rock sample from the moon / a lunar rock
2. D
3. six
4. (i) F; (ii) T; (iii) NG; (iv) F
5. C
6. A
7. the rock sample / pre-recorded descriptions of the rock samples / colour slides showing Apollo 11’s landing / photographs showing Apollo 11’s landing (any 3)
8. because there were too many visitors
9. A

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy