NASA Selects LPI to Enable Scientists to Reach Underrepresented Communities

February 4, 2021

NASA Selects LPI to Enable Scientists to Reach Underrepresented Communities

NASA is funding 30 awards across the U.S. to implement the next phase of Science Activation — a community-based approach to connect NASA science with learners of all ages. The selected proposals will broaden participation of underrepresented and underserved learners, as well as expand connections with the agency’s scientists and engineers. Nine new awardees, including the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), join a network of 21 that received extensions into the next phase of the program.

The Science Activation Program, known as SciAct, is a cooperative network of competitively selected teams across the Nation that connect NASA science experts, real content, and experiences with community leaders to do science in ways that activate minds and promote deeper understanding of our world and beyond.

“Through innovative partnerships and networks, we’re enabling learners of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the advancement of knowledge,” said Kristen Erickson, director, Science Engagement and Partnerships at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “I’m thrilled this accomplished group of awardees builds upon the SciAct excellence recognized by the National Academies.”

The LPI and its partners are developing a process, or engagement model, to prepare planetary science subject matter experts (SMEs) to engage audiences within the Science Activation portfolio, with an explicit focus on Black and Latinx communities. Planetary ReaCH (Resources and Content Heroes) will prepare these planetary “content heroes” to engage audiences through 3-day Planetary Engagement Workshops. This innovative approach invites Science Activation teams and informal educators who serve minority communities to participate in the workshops alongside planetary SMEs. Participants will collaborate while learning to engage audiences in NASA planetary science.

“The LPI and its Planetary ReaCH partners bring years of experience and expertise in public engagement,” says Mr. Andrew Shaner, Principal Investigator for Planetary ReaCH. “A fundamental aspect of this work has been supporting planetary scientists in their efforts to engage audiences in the excitement of NASA’s exploration of the solar system.”

The selections and extensions were made by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and will support the science discipline areas of Earth science, astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics. The total funding for these investigations is approximately $36 million.

For a complete list of the new awardees, visit

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