Planetary exploration is among the most exciting and accessible of the science activities funded by NASA or any government agency (NRC, 2011). Currently, though, there is a significant need for greater inclusion of planetary mission discoveries and planetary researchers in engagement events, and a need to broaden participation to Black and Latinx communities. Planetary Resources and Content Heroes (ReaCH) is an engagement model to prepare planetary researchers to engage audiences, with an explicit and purposeful focus on Black and Latinx communities. Black and Latinx researchers are underrepresented in STEM, and even more so in planetary science (Rivera-Valentín et al, 2020). In our engagement model, we work to identify opportunity gaps and prepare researchers to bridge those gaps in their engagement activities. In 2022-2025, ReaCH will conduct workshops where planetary researchers will work alongside informal educators who serve underrepresented communities. Workshop participants will receive tools to prepare them to engage with their audience.
Workshop development is informed by the needs of planetary researchers and the communities they will engage. In particular, researchers will be prepared to leverage a bi-directional approach, which incorporates intentional and meaningful two-way interaction between scientists and their audience to learn from each other during engagement activities. Furthermore, our engagement model incorporates strategies such as: 1) using empowerment theory and authentic partnerships to create a positive and collaborative engagement with communities, 2) involving Black and Latinx role models from planetary disciplines, 3) integrating Black and Latinx communities’ perspectives and focusing on audience needs, and 4) providing time for reflection. In addition to these strategies, the proposed model includes the principles of justice, racial equity, positive language use, collaborative definitions, and diversity.
National Research Council (2011). Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013- 2022. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Rivera-Valentín, E. G. et al. (2020). Who is missing in planetary science: A demographic study of the planetary science workforce. BAAS 53(4).