Engaging Diverse Communities in Planetary Science

May 20, 2022

>Ms. Corinne Rojas speaking with children about exploring Mars with rovers

Ms. Corinne Rojas of Arizona State University, planetary science subject matter expert and Mastcam Operations Engineer on the Perseverance rover, speaks with children about exploring Mars with rovers.

A 2021 survey of planetary scientists conducted by the Planetary Resources and Content Heroes (ReaCH) team revealed a desire to engage more effectively with diverse communities and a need for help in learning where and how to begin.

The Planetary ReaCH team, led by Andy Shaner, principal investigator and senior education specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, are developing workshops for planetary science and exploration subject matter experts (SMEs; including graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, engineers, and technicians) to learn how to effectively engage diverse audiences, specifically Black and Latinx youth and their families, in planetary science and exploration.

In April 2022, the Planetary ReaCH team held a three-day pilot workshop at Arizona State University (ASU) to begin to address this need. Workshop participants — planetary scientists and informal educators — explored strategies and resources for engaging diverse audiences in the excitement of NASA's planetary science and exploration. Following the workshop, participants conducted a public engagement event at Riverside Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, with students and their families, many of whom identify as Latinx. This event enabled participants to practice activities and engagement strategies from the workshop.

Participants indicated the workshop helped them prepare to engage diverse audiences, noting that the post-workshop public event was a beneficial exercise. Lessons learned from evaluation data and the experience will inform the next ReaCH pilot workshop scheduled for the summer of 2022.

Much needed, and enjoyed the presentations [activities]!

-Parent at the public event

Can I have a new card [passport]? I did everything and now I want to do it all again!

-4th-grade boy at public event

The Planetary ReaCH team is part of a cooperative network from across the Nation that works with NASA to connect NASA science experts and content to engage with learners of all ages to activate minds and promote a deeper understanding of our world and beyond.

Planetary ReaCH is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number 80NSSC21M0003 and is part of NASA's Science Activation Portfolio.

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