I agree. I was lucky enough to have a couple of 'non-standard' teachers that brought a lot of wisdom and insight into what they taught, and really made things interesting. One guy that taught a global class (social studies) was a former state department worker that was stationed in the Middle East, and it was so much better to hear stories of what he got to do and see there than it would have been to read it in a dry textbook. Nowadays he probably wouldn't have time to talk to us like that, for fear of dropping a percentile on the state test(s).
As far as the tile goes, I think at a certain age, likely elementary level, kids would be excited about being able to touch something that 'came from outer space'. Maybe it could create a spark in an otherwise uninterested mind. Jaded high school kids wouldn't be impressed by anything that wasn't a laser, phaser, or blaster, but to an 8-year old I would think it would be pretty cool.