Engaging Diverse Houston-area Communities in Planetary Science
A 2021 survey of U.S. planetary scientists revealed a desire to engage more effectively with diverse communities and a need for help in learning where and how to begin. In August 2022, NASA's Planetary Resources and Content Heroes (ReaCH) team held a second pilot workshop at Space Center Houston to begin to address this need.
Workshop participants – planetary scientists and informal educators – explored strategies and resources for engaging Black and Latinx audiences in the excitement of NASA planetary science and exploration. Following the workshop, participants conducted a public engagement event at the Salvation Army of Greater Houston Boys and Girls Club facility in Pasadena, TX. The event was attended by youth and their families from the Pasadena community who identify as Black or Hispanic. This event enabled participants to practice activities and engagement strategies modeled and discussed during the workshop.
Workshop participants reported gaining confidence in their ability to develop authentic partnerships and relationships, understand biases, recognize and reduce barriers, and use audience-centered strategies. One of the informal educator participants had this to say: "I felt it was a great opportunity to get to know people in their different roles, to see what is out there regarding the two industries—education and planetary science." Another participant, a Subject Matter Expert, noted: "I really feel like I learned a lot about how to educate, you know, communicate science." Lessons learned from evaluation data and the experience itself will inform the next ReaCH pilot workshop, scheduled for Fall, 2022.
The ReaCH team would like to thank and acknowledge the Pasadena, TX Public Library for assistance in planning the workshop and participating in it, the Salvation Army of Greater Houston for hosting and assisting in the planning of the public event, Space Center Houston for providing meeting space, and the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) team at Johnson Space Center for a tour of their planetary research facilities.
Planetary ReaCH is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number 80NSSC21M0003 and is part of NASA’s Science Activation Portfolio. Please visit www.lpi.usra.edu/planetary-reach to learn more.