Celebrating Diversity from Space

Lead Staff:
David Libby

Lead Staff Outside of TERC

Andrew Turnage, Association of Space Explorers
Dan Barstow, Association of Space Explorers


Astronauts have a unique perspective, orbiting Earth every 92 minutes. They see the amazing diversity of Earth: continents, mountains, oceans, forests, deserts, clouds, rivers, volcanoes, islands, aurora – the whole panoply of our wonderful planet. They see the even more amazing diversity of the human presence on the planet and directly experience the rich diversity of ways humanity uses the International Space Station to enhance our lives. That is a powerful message: from space, the astronauts see not just that we’re one planet, but that our planet is astonishingly diverse. If we can convey this message about Earth’s diversity, we can similarly show the power of diversity in our communities, schools, nations – everywhere we live.

Diversity enriches our lives, provides alternative perspectives, enables innovation, and helps each of us value our own role in that diversity. This is an especially important message for impressionable students, who need to see real examples of the power of diversity all around them. Understanding and celebrating diversity is vital for all of us. Space provides a compelling venue for illustrating that message.

Astronaut taking photos from the ISS

Celebrating Diversity from Space is an educational program for middle school learners, working with under-represented youth in after-school programs.  The program will explore diversity at two levels:

1) Earth’s GLOBAL diversity in terms of the physical features and human geography of planet Earth as revealed in the photos and videos taken by ISS astronauts and

2) Community’s LOCAL diversity among the students, communities and life experiences of the participants, whose families come from wonderfully diverse backgrounds, cultures and countries.

Both realms have the common theme – that diversity is an essential element of success. The program will emphasize hands-on and inquiry-based learning, visual imagery, and interesting challenges to drive the learning. The program will focus on middle school age youth as a pivotal age for sparking interests, personal growth, self-confidence and building healthy inter-personal relations.

View of Earth from the ISS


Celebrating Diversity from Space has at its core the goals of directly engaging under-represented youth, helping them value their rich diversity and envision themselves in aerospace careers and makes extensive use of ISS digital resources (over 1,000,000 photos and videos of Earth from ISS astronauts), with all materials, activities and resources freely available on-line.