Lunar and Planetary Institute

Engaging Multicultural Audiences in Planetary Science

Agenda | Participants | Resources | Notes | Evaluation Responses

Arrow Back to workshop home page

March 11, 2007
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Houston, Texas

Notes from LPSC Education Workshop


After hearing our four speakers, the participants broke up into four groups to identify needs, issues and challenges for diverse audiences:

  • two groups associated with those diversity needs, issues and challenges related to the classroom (K-12 and college lecture)
  • one group associated with the needs, issues, and challenges in student research experience,
  • and one group associated with the needs, issues and challenges in serving multicultural audiences in informal education (museums and planetariums, after-school groups, scouts, family events, general public).

Many of the group discussions had common themes.

Issues and Challenges included:

  • Recruiting students from multicultural backgrounds
    • Identifying the students
    • Encouraging students to apply, fill out applications, or get into existing programs
  • Students or their families may be uncomfortable
    • Sense a lack of respect
    • Traveling long distances
    • Don’t know the people, instructors, or leaders of the program
    • The community or family’s fear of the student leaving their community or growing apart from their community
    • Fear of formal institutions by immigrant communities
  • Financial constraints, particularly for at-risk or underserved communities
  • Lack of role models
  • Language barriers
  • Lack of access to technology
  • Space science media has difficulty targeting or meeting the needs of multicultural audiences
  • Many minority students in the US are not graduating and cannot be kept in the “pipeline” without better preparation in K-12


Participants later broke up into three groups to identify tools for reaching diverse audiences:

  • tools for sustainability of efforts to address multicultural audiences
  • tools for recruitment and retention of diverse audiences
  • and tools for approaching different audiences

There were some themes that again emerged in multiple groups.

Those interested in working with multicultural audiences need to:

  • Show respect for the dignity of different cultural backgrounds
  • Create a sense of opportunity
  • Involve family, teachers, and community for the targeted audiences
  • Network to leverage talents and create a community for your program
  • Invest in a long-term relationship with the targeted communities
  • Provide funding

Tools for Recuritment and Retention

  • Go to where “they” are—physically
  • Meet and get to know your intended audience
  • Community Science Activities/ Events
  • Use and welcome local knowledge— invite participants to present
  • Use mentors and create partnerships (high school to college)
  • Work with community colleges
  • Look at student needs
    • Be flexible
    • Early start
    • Study skills
  • Build a critical mass
  • Provide pre-college summer internships

Tools for Approaching Multicultural Audiences

  • Use family programs to create “buy-in” to STEM
  • Use interdisciplinary activities: involve aspects that the audience may be comfortable with, such as music, arts, food, their familiarity with their environment, history connected to their everyday lives
  • Reconnect the audience’s heritage to astronomy
  • Connect the pursuit of STEM to their lives: the environment, earth science, concrete issues such as health, their community, the “me” factor
  • Use multimedia—games, learning toys, and podcasts
  • Reignite the dream and passion of space
  • Provide access to technology
  • Provide fundamental STEM education
  • Provide a connection to real opportunities/ careers

Tools for Sustainability

  • Tie shorter programs into long term efforts
  • Establish a sense of trust and reliability in the targeted audience
  • Look at other organizations that mandate sustainability as a model
  • Search for additional support, such as government funding and endowments
  • Collaborate with businesses
  • Create a materials “pipeline” to teachers and educational institutions
  • Broaden the dialogue by developing self-support, involving research scientists
  • Build relationships with multicultural institutions: start small, create connections or a network, and work toward “two-way” reciprocity
  • Provide professional development of EPO professionals

Last updated
July 18, 2008