Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute

Scientist Engagement

Dr. Kathleen Vander Kaaden engages children in <br>
        investigating the composition of planets.

Dr. Kathleen Vander Kaaden engages children in
investigating the composition of planets.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s education and public engagement team is pleased to assist planetary scientists in their communication and public engagement activities. LPI conducts practice and mentoring sessions for students and other early career scientists preparing to present at planetary science conferences, and conducts scientist workshops to provide insight on meeting audience needs.

Sharing Planetary Science: Planetary Scientist Engagement Sessions
Based on input from planetary scientists and its Education and Public Engagement advisory board, LPI is conducting short professional development sessions. Sessions include interactive activities and demonstrations to allow participants to share their insights.

Past Topics

Using Social Media
A popular way to share your science is using social media. Masters of social media, including Emily Lakdawalla, Edgard Rivera-Valentín, Alex Parker, and Julie Tygielski shared techniques and suggestions for disseminating your science. The recording is available online.

Addressing Controversial Topics
Recommendations from participating scientists and from the National Center for Science Education, and other resources.

Sharing Science with the News Media
Science journalists David W. Brown, Emily Lakdawalla, and Leonard and Barbara David shared tips and provided insight on giving interviews and sharing your science with the press.

Common Planetary Misconceptions
Audiences may have mistaken ideas about the size, scale, and characteristics of objects in the solar system, and limited understanding of astronomical and geological time and concepts. Learn common misconceptions and how to address them.

Making Planetary Science Relevant
We connect to audiences by making our content relevant; learn some techniques for making planetary science relevant to different groups. Handouts: Relevance Cards, Relevancy Worksheet

Getting the Audience’s Attention
Public engagement starts with capturing the audience’s attention. We will discuss engagement techniques, from catchy phrases to activities and demonstrations to presentation styles. Handouts: Attention Worksheet, LPI Resources for Public Engagement in Planetary Science

Understanding Audience Goals
Public engagement activities need to be guided by the audience’s own goals and needs and where they intersect the scientist’s goals. We will provide insight into the different goals that different audiences bring to public engagement events.

Director Louise Prockter chats with a guest <br>
during a public lecture at LPI.

Director Louise Prockter chats with a guest
during a public lecture at LPI.

Public Engagement Resources for Planetary Scientists

Techniques for Engaging the Public in Planetary Science

Prepare for the Audience’s Current Understanding of Planetary Science

Upcoming Public Engagement Opportunities

From eclipses to meteor showers to spacecraft encounters, there is always something happening in our solar system. These are opportunities for planetary scientists to share the excitement of solar system science and exploration.

For any public engagement events, consider collaborating with a local educator, public library, astronomy club, or science center, to conduct hands-on activities and give audience-appropriate presentations. Your local astronomy club might provide telescopes for night sky viewing. You can find a local astronomy club through NASA’s Night Sky Network.

NASA's Spot the Station
When will the International Space Station (ISS) fly over your city? NASA's Spot the Station w​i​d​g​e​t​ ​will tell you what day and time the ISS will be visible from your location. You can also sign up for e-mail or mobile text alerts and be notified of opportunities to watch the ISS fly overhead!

Find more information and related activities for these upcoming celestial and mission events. More activities can be found on

Dr. David Kring gives a public presentation.

LPI's Dr. David Kring gives a public presentation on lunar science and
exploration at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Additional Resources

Ongoing Opportunities for Scientist Engagement with LPI

Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series at LPI

Since 2009, the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series program has invited scientists from across the country to present their science to the public in the Clear Lake region of Houston. Presentations in a series are tied together by a central theme in the space sciences and each series consists of four or five presentations. Presentations take place on Thursday evenings and are followed by a light reception. Depending on the speaker’s research, they may also be invited to present a science seminar the following day for LPI and JSC scientists. If you would like to be considered to give a public presentation at LPI, please contact Andy Shaner.

Speaker Requests for a Lunar and Planetary Institute Scientist
LPI scientists are available for limited presentations in the Houston region at no cost, on a variety of planetary science topics.