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Diverse Dreams Take Flight

NASA Planetary Science

NASA Planetary Science

Diverse Dreams Take Flight: KCC’s "Here 2 Observe" Program Ignites Passion for Planetary Science

Kingsborough Community College (KCC) is advancing its commitment to diversity and science education with the launch of the "Here 2 Observe" — or H2O — cohort program. The program is funded by a $375,000 grant from NASA to create learning cohorts focused on space exploration paired with the NASA Dragonfly mission to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. A collaborative effort between KCC, Stony Brook University, the American Museum of Natural History and NASA, Kingsborough is one of six cohorts chosen nationally. It represents a significant step toward a more diverse and inclusive future in planetary science and space exploration.

The "Here 2 Observe" program is not just about education; it's about empowering underrepresented students, providing them with opportunities to learn more about careers in planetary science, and connecting them with a network of mentors and institutions. It also recognizes the pivotal role that community colleges play in nurturing a diverse group of students with unique backgrounds and experiences, all of which are invaluable to our future workforce and scientific community.

KCC is one of the few community colleges in the United States with a strong emphasis on planetary and space sciences. The Department of Physical Sciences provides students with hands-on experience through laboratory components in courses related to planetary science and astronomy.

The program is led by dedicated faculty members with expertise in planetary science, including Dr. Steven J. Jaret, Dr. Kieren Howard, Dr. Michael K. Weisberg and Dr. Jisun Park, whose passion for science education and mentorship enhances the learning experience.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in various activities, including monthly meetings, seminars, and field trips to institutions like the American Museum of Natural History, Stony Brook University and the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The most exciting opportunity, according to Jaret, will be a trip to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where they’ll interact with NASA mission teams and see where the spacecraft is being built. “Getting to see the huge lab and meet the people involved provides a whole new perspective for students.”

They can choose to earn college credit for program participation and return as peer mentors to guide new members and foster a sense of community. The program will be continuously evaluated to measure its impact on student success, retention and post-graduation outcomes.

“My hope for this program is that students see the importance and power of space exploration,” shared Jaret. “As this is not a field that New York City is known for, I want to expose students to something they could be a part of in the future. We are expanding horizons.”

KCC students wishing to be considered for H2O should contact Steven Jaret at steven.jaret@kbcc.cuny.edu.

 

 

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