Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 – 24 September 2021
Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 September – 24 September 2021
Diversity and Inclusiveness in Planetary Sciences


Diversity and Inclusiveness in Planetary Sciences
Convener: Arianna Piccialli | Co-conveners: Lena Noack, Andrea Opitz
Tue, 21 Sep, 14:20–14:50 (CEST)

Session assets

Discussion on Slack

Oral and Poster presentations and abstracts

Chairpersons: Arianna Piccialli, Lena Noack, Andrea Opitz
Rosa Doran and Priscila Doran

The world of education has many pillars that are equally important but the acceptance of the human nature and the understanding of what it entails is probably the most basic one. We educate students so they can thrive in their profession at a later stage in their lives. We try to empower little brains to embrace their passion and enhance their skills. But we often forget the importance of diversity and inclusion, which are the basic secret of being human. There is no life without diversity and inclusive environments. So where do we start? Well, by ensuring that education is built strongly build upon these pillars, by promoting an inclusive education where all talents and preferences are properly addressed and nurtured. We address these pillars by ensuring that diversity is accepted as normal and something that should be integrated in all learning stages. Empowering educators with the necessary tools to embed these notions in their lessons is key. In this presentation we aim to show to the audience a few efforts we have been lately involved where we use the Universal Design for Learning, Design Thinking and STEAM methodologies to improve the competence profile of educators.

We are currently supporting educators from all over the world to cope with the contingencies brought by COVID-19. The lack of digital skills, the need for the integration of innovative methodologies in classroom and the openness of schools for the community they serve is not something new. The current pandemic just brought to light the urgent needs. We are combining components of projects like Reflecting for Change, InSteam, ASSESS, Polar Star and Global Science Opera for Schools to empower them with the necessary tools and resources. Teachers are being invited to rethink the way they present knowledge content, to avoid stereotypes, to embrace diversity as a normal part of their lessons and to ensure inclusion is present at every stage of their interaction with the students.  A summary of this effort will be presented in this talk.

How to cite: Doran, R. and Doran, P.: Diversity and Inclusion in Education, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-874,, 2021.

Marina Molla

In this paper we aim to showcase the story of the participation of the 5th grade of the 9th Primary School of Komotini in the inspiring and inclusive “EPSC goes live for schools” and the art contest “Inspired By other Worlds”.

1. Introduction
The 9th Primary School of Komotini is an urban school located in the outskirts of the city which is in the region of East Macedonia and Thrace, in the north-eastern part of Greece. Almost half of the students come from marginalized settlements of the city and belong to the Muslim minority of Thrace. Their school attendance is irregular and results in the creation of gaps in their cognitive skills and to the gradual reduction of their self-expression, classroom participation, self-confidence and self-esteem. These are followed by their marginalization and alienation in the classroom and the school community and eventually often lead to school dropout.   

2. Teaching Approach
Thus the aim of the school and the teacher of the 5th grade is to offer inclusive education which is the most effective way to give all children a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to thrive and value the unique contributions students of all backgrounds bring to the classroom and allow diverse groups to grow side by side, to the benefit of all [1].

3. Classroom Context
The classroom consisted of 13 5th graders, 9 boys and 4 girls. Three of the students were students with special needs. There is an assistant teacher in the classroom for one of the students while the other two also attend the special needs class of the school.

4. Procedure
The announcement of the participation of the 5th grade in “EPSC goes live for Schools” and the art contest “Inspired By other Worlds” was received with enthusiasm from the students and the parents.  The presentation of the relative video excited them and intrigued their curiosity. In the classroom under the guidance of their teacher students posed questions, inquired and discussed about the importance of Scientific Congresses, Scientists and their Research and in specifically of Europlanet Science Congress and the value of opening its doors to schools and giving them the opportunity to take a glimpse of how contemporary science is done. The EPSC2020 web platform was presented and students navigated through it. The plan of the live events, the short description of the workshop and the introduction of the speakers were translated and printed from the “Handbook for (participating) teachers”. The Space Scoop platform which is a collection of the latest space news from astronomical organizations was used to get familiarized with the topic of each live event and the relative terminology. Arrangements were made so that the class could stay at school after school’s closing time in order to participate in the live events which exceeded the opening time of the school. Each live talk was anticipated with great excitement and rewarded by the welcoming and inspiring host and speakers who embraced and motivated the students with the inspirational presentations and the interaction between them. The students were engaged during the whole process. They would take notes, write down their questions and make sketches of what they saw. During the presentations their questions were posted in the chat box of the webinar or in the YouTube channel. When the first answers were posted the got so excited that they started to applause. So even the shy and reluctant students started to ask questions and not only in the chat box but live in the last section of the event for questions in English and in Greek when the speaker was Greek. Very soon their questions did not only concern the topic but the speakers also whom the students saw as role models. After receiving their answers they started to perform little victory dances full of joy and enthusiasm and the rest of the class would applaud. The fact that when introducing themselves the speakers would also go back to their school ages and talk about their favorite subjects, their school performances, their favorite movies, comics and hobbies and their dreams and how they got to make them get true, made the students connect with them and feel honored. Furthermore, the positive climate and the multicultural and multilingual context of the events enhanced their self-esteem and self-confidence. After each live event the students created paintings and drawings in the classroom and collaboratively in the school’s art workshop with the teacher of the classroom, the assistant teacher and the special needs teacher.      

5.  Creative outcome
Four paintings were created collaboratively and twenty seven by the students themselves for the art contest “Inspired By Other Worlds”. “EPSC goes live for Schools” inspired the 5th graders with our wonderful and diverse Universe which managed to include all the students and make them feel part of “Our Universe” which was the title they chose themselves.  

6. Discussion
“EPSC goes live for Schools” enhanced, empowered and inspired the young children of the 5th grade. Every live event was the talk of the School. Parents discussed about the excitement of their children. One mother told the teacher that her child’s attitude toward physics (which is introduced as a subject in Greece in the 5th grade) changed positively after  participating in the events. Finally, seeing their artworks in the relative gallery and being awarded the 3rd Prize in Public vote and a Special Recognition for excellent School Group in an excellent award ceremony was as they said an “unforgettable and amazing experience”.    

I would like to acknowledge the “EPSC goes live for Schools” and “Inspired By other Worlds” Teams.

[1] UNESCO (2005b) Guidelines for Inclusion: Ensuring access to education for all Paris: UNESCO, p.13

How to cite: Molla, M.: EPSC goes live for Schools for inclusion, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-865,, 2021.

Amelia Ortiz-Gil and Jordi Burguet-Castell

Since 2011 our group at the University of Valencia Astronomical Observatory has been developing tactile 3D models of planetary bodies in order to make planetary sciences more accessible to all publics, in particular, blind or visually impaired people.

The first model we produced was a tactile globe of the Moon, that was kindly funded by Europlanet through its annual call for funding outreach projects[1]. The model was produced through a rather lengthy and laborious process that involved using four different kinds of software.

The tactile Moon was so successful that we started a whole project - called “A Touch of the Universe” - with the goal of developing tactile astronomical resources for outreach and education, in particular, the creation of planetary 3D tactile models[2] (Fig.1).

The larger number of 3D models that we wanted to produce, together with our wish to allow other researchers to be able to produce their own tactile globes, inspired us to develop a quick, easy-to-use software for everyone to enjoy: “Mapelia and friends” [3].

Mapelia is a tool written in Python that uses as input jpg or png files that contain maps (that is, gridded datasets where the value of each pixel is the elevation) in any of the following projections: equirectangular, Mercator, central cylindrical, Mollweide or sinusoidal. The output of the program is a 3D file (of polygons like .ply or .stl, or points in space like .asc), that can be visualized and manipulated with programs like MeshLab or Blender.

Mapelia is accompanied by its “friends” guapelia, pintelia, poligoniza, stl-split and smooth, which add some other functionalities to Mapelia. In particular, guapelia is a GUI to use mapelia and pintelia converts maps into coloured 3D images.

The software has allowed us to make the tactile 3D models of Mars (Fig.2), Mercury, Venus (Fig. 3) and, more recently, the Earth (Fig. 4).

The software is freely available for downloading from the “A Touch of the Universe” website ( and Github.


This work has been funded by the project PID2019-109592GB-100/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación - Agencia Estatal de Investigación.

[1] Ortiz-Gil, A. (2018) “3D Tactile Moon”, in Proceedings of the EPSC 2018, Berlin (Germany),
[2] A Touch of the Universe,
[3] Ortiz-Gil, A. & Burguet-Castell, J. (2018) “Mapelia and friends: create 3D models from maps”,
Journal of Open Source Software -2475-9066, 3, 25, 660-661. doi: 10.21105/joss.00660

Fig. 1. The tactile Moon is now part of a larger kit of tactile resources for the blind and visually impaired. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

Fig. 2. Mars model created with “Mapelia and friends”, signed by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

Fig. 3. Venus model created with “Mapelia and friends”. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

Fig. 4. Earth 3D model created with “Mapelia and friends”. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

How to cite: Ortiz-Gil, A. and Burguet-Castell, J.: Mapelia: Your Swiss Knife to Tactile Planetary Globes, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-873,, 2021.

Priscila Doran and Rosa Doran

STEAM is often seen as the integration of an art form into the teaching of sciences. Although that is not necessarily wrong, it is a very limited view of the powerful tool that STEAM learning can be. Just like a pizza, STEAM education can have “many flavours” and each of these “flavours” can be focused on with different intensities.

POLAR STAR is an Erasmus project that focuses on innovative educational methods. One of its pillars is an innovative STEAM methodology that focuses on delivering an engaging education for a diverse classroom. To make the methodology more understandable, the team has come up with an amusing exercise called “the pizza challenge”. It invites teachers to create a pizza. The aim is to reflect on the fact that even for a specific diet (for e.g., vegan), different people with choose different ingredients and flavours according to their likes and dislikes. Similarly, in a classroom, each student will have their likes and dislikes, their interests, their way of thinking and of working, turning them into unique “consumers”. With this parallel, teachers realize that it is important to offer different “flavours” to different students in a classroom.

The POLAR STAR methodology offers teachers a variety of lesson planners, focusing on the different flavours of STEAM. It guides teachers into reflecting on their students and choosing one or more activity templates for a given lesson. These templates can focus on STEAM (with special emphasis on a science-based activity), on STEAM (with special emphasis on an engineering-based activity) and on STEAM (with special emphasis on an arts-based activity). By diversifying the way they deliver their lessons teachers will be reaching a wider diversity of students and providing them with more engaging, motivational and interactive activities.

POLAR STAR integrates these methodologies in a diverse kit of activities provided for teachers and students, following the different activity templates, in the fields of Astronomy and Polar Science, as well as holistic interdisciplinary learning approach, based on the Big Ideas of Science.

All teachers are welcome in the project and can find more information on the projects’ website: During this talk the STEAM methodology to deliver Astronomy and Polar Science interactive lessons will be presented.

How to cite: Doran, P. and Doran, R.: The many flavours of STEAM education for an inclusive environment, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-875,, 2021.

Priscila Doran and Rosa Doran

Student assessment is usually viewed as a tool for teachers to grade their students by the end of a period or school year. It is often used as a single moment where the students’ achievements are evaluated as a final mark. Furthermore, assessment is often done in a standardized way and focused on the amount of knowledge students were able to retain and with a limited view on a few skills they may have developed. Student assessment has existed for decades and has served many purposes. However, as society is evolving and schools are becoming more aware of the importance of diversity, inclusion and innovative educational methods, the standardized method of assessment is becoming obsolete.

In a survey done to over 150 teachers in Spain, Portugal, Greece and a few other countries, many teachers have reported that they understand the need to innovate in assessment, they want to focus on students’ skills, more than on the knowledge retained and that they lack the tools, skills, and know-how to do it. It has become evident that assessment needs to embrace student diversity and must be used as a tool for development. It must be seen as a fluid evaluation where student find endless opportunities to evolve and grow, not only academically but also socially and emotionally.

Considering this, the ASSESS project was born, through a partnership between four partners from Portugal, Greece, and Spain and with the doors open to all interested teachers that want to revolutionize student assessment. The project team believes that a standardized student assessment can never reach the depths of human diversity and talents and thus, needs to be reinvented and updated.

The project will work with teachers to create an innovative assessment methodology as well as a kit of digital and analogue tools that teachers and students can use for assessment. Furthermore, the project will offer an on-line course for all teachers interested in learning how to use but also how to create their own innovative assessment tools.

The project has already launched a campaign during the EU Diversity Month (May 2021) where over 100 teachers and students from over 8 countries have created sentences about assessment, which were shared in the projects’ Facebook page ( ASSESS is now recruiting teachers that want to participate and collaborate in the creation of an innovative assessment paradigm. More info can be found on the projects’ website: . During this talk, the project idea is going to be presented as well a summary of the results obtained so far.

How to cite: Doran, P. and Doran, R.: The power of student assessment in the promotion of an inclusive environment in the school, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-876,, 2021.

Loïc Rossi

First published in 1887 by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, Esperanto is the most successful constructed language, with speakers all around the globe and even native speakers.

The relationship between Esperanto and science starts very early: the scientific journal Internacia Scienca Revuo was created in 1904 and the International Esperantist Science Association (ISAE) was founded in 1907 (Wera Blanke, Scienca Revuo 206, 2006). Many publications and books about scientific topics have since been written or translated in Esperanto. 

Esperanto has initially been envisioned as a lingua franca to be used in international communication, both in general and for scientific purposes. While English has since taken this role, there is still a desire to maintain and develop the scientific culture and the related terminology in Esperanto. Science outreach is one way to achieve this goal, and new projects have appeared in the last few years.

Esperanto represents an interesting challenge for outreach : being a more neutral language, not related to a specific country or ethnic group, the community of speakers (albeit small) is by essence more international and more diverse than in national languages. This is an opportunity, but also comes with some difficulties.

In this work, I’ll discuss the advantages and obstacles of communicating science in Esperanto. I’ll present various projects of science communication in Esperanto, with a focus on my personal experience with my YouTube channel D-ro Loĉjo, where I do videos about science and in particular about planetary science.

How to cite: Rossi, L.: Science communication in the international auxiliary language Esperanto, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-582,, 2021.

Stefania Varano

Sign languages ​​arise from the need of communities of deaf people to communicate with each other and with others. Like all natural languages, they are tied to the traditions and cultures of the communities that invented and developed them. The sign language used in Italy is the Italian Sign Language, LIS.

The strong iconicity of LIS is very interesting from the point of view of communication and didactics of astronomy, also for the hearing impaired. The signs used for astronomical concepts and objects often express the meaning and nature of what is represented, much more than a single word in the Italian language does.

LIS is therefore effective not only for inclusive communication aimed at deaf people, but it can be effective for everyone, both in terms of equity and awareness of diversity and in terms of knowledge of astronomy and its link with culture and tradition.

We will present a set of videos published on EduINAF, the outreach and education online magazine of the Italian National Isntitute for Astrophysics, in which the LIS is the main medium of the storytelling. Each video has subtitles, in order to make the LIS understandable for all.

How to cite: Varano, S.: Sign languages to unfold the Universe, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-701,, 2021.

Vanessa Fivet, Claudia Alves de Jesus-Rydin, and Andreas Keil

The European Research Council (ERC), Europe’s premiere funding agency for frontier research, views equality of opportunities as an essential priority. The ERC monitors closely various demographic data yearly on every call and has taken actions to tackle imbalances and potential implicit and explicit biases.

In this presentation, we will focus on demographic data of the three main funding schemes: Starting Grant, Consolidator Grant and Advanced Grant. The data of the ERC population, collected over the two past European Framework Programs (FP7 2007-2013 and H2020 2014-2020), will focus on gender and geographic location within the area of Universe Sciences and more particularly Planetary Sciences.

The ERC is aware that promoting diversity is a continuous effort. We will present the various initiatives put in place since the inception of the ERC together with the recent actions taken to adapt to the COVID19 pandemic.

How to cite: Fivet, V., Alves de Jesus-Rydin, C., and Keil, A.: European Research Council (ERC) demographics and initiatives to promote diversity, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-591,, 2021.

Laura Inno, Alessandra Rotundi, and Arianna Piccialli

Among European countries, Italy was the first to be heavily hit by the outbreak of COVID-19 and quickly decreed on 9 March 2020 that the entire national territory be locked down to prevent its further spread, establishing an unprecedented situation for its citizens, including researchers. Italy hosts a noumerous (~2000) and lively community of researchers in the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics, which contains the largest fraction of female researchers (~30%) among the world’s leading countries in astronomy (defined as the ones with IAU members >150). Therefore, the Italian community poses as an ideal testbed to investigate the consequences of the lockdown on research productivity, also by gender.
In order to do so, we used the INAF and MIUR websites to compile a complete database of the Italian researchers, considered by gender, and matched it with the first authors of preprints posted on the largest preprint archive of natural science publications, arXiv, for each year from 2017 to 2020.We find that the overall production in the first semester of 2020 (i.e. during the first lockdown) was lower than the average value estimated from the baseline above, but if we break down this difference by the assigned first-author gender, we find that the decrease only concerns the submissions by female researchers, while submissions by male researchers even increased. We argue that this difference in productivity between male and female researchers during the lockdown might be a reflection of the unbalanced distribution of the unpaid workload at home between partners.

How to cite: Inno, L., Rotundi, A., and Piccialli, A.: COVID-19 lockdown effects on gender inequality, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-733,, 2021.

Christine Bingen, Lê Binh San Pham, Lucie Lamort, Karolien Lefever, Arianna Piccialli, and Marie Yseboodt

In June 2021, the second edition of Soapbox Science takes place in Brussels. Soapbox Science is a public outreach platform that was initiated in London, UK in 2011 to promote women in science, and that was spread worldwide since then. Between 2011 and 2018, 40 cities hosted the initiative in not less than 8 countries over 4 continents, and in 2020, despite the pandemic, 56 events were organized in 14 countries around the world.

In 2019, the idea to endorse the organisation of a Soapbox Science event in Brussels was germinating in the head of a small group of scientists from two Belgian Federal Scientific Institutes. After about 20 months of exploratory work and of addressing the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, the first Belgian event took place in fall 2020, not in the centre of Brussels as initially planned, but as a virtual event live-streamed via YouTube and Facebook. The second edition of Soapbox Science Brussels will take place end June 2021, and the organisation is now much better prepared to adapt the format of the event (online or in the heart of Brussels following the standard format) to the latest developments of the regulations of the pandemic.

In this communication, we present the development of the Soapbox Science initiative in Belgium. We describe the motivations, challenges, issues and opportunities encountered throughout the process, and how Soapbox Science gradually takes its place in the Belgian context of the promotion of women in sciences.

How to cite: Bingen, C., Pham, L. B. S., Lamort, L., Lefever, K., Piccialli, A., and Yseboodt, M.: Soapbox Science Brussels: an outreach platform for the promotion of Women in Sciences in Belgium, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-815,, 2021.

Arianna Piccialli, Karolien Lefever, Ann Carine Vandaele, and Clio Gielen

We are attempting to gather all information available to study the question of the representation of women in astronomy in Belgium, which is not a straightforward task.

In an early study, [1] analysed gender-specific statistics on the Belgian physicists. One of the difficulties they found was that Belgium keeps different statistics for the French-speaking and Flemish universities, and the career structure is different depending on the Communities.

As preliminary analysis, we investigated the percentage of women in the International Astronomical Union (IAU) registered in the database for Belgium [2]. The IAU is an international organization with participation from 68 countries that covers the main areas of astronomy, including planetary science. In 2021, 32 out of 144 Belgian members were female (22%). It is important to notice that not all astronomers in Belgium, and in particular not the younger generation where the percentage of female researchers is higher, are member of IAU. Therefore we expect these values to underestimate the true number of women in the field. In view of the fact that it is the same at the level of the funding bodies and, by construction, at the universities, Earth and Space Sciences will be considered together. We will present preliminary results of our study.


[1] Petra Rudolf, Vice‐President, Christine Iserentant, Muriel Vander Donckt, Nathalie Balcaen, Peggy Fredrickx, Karen Janssens, and Griet Janssen, "Women in Physics in Belgium: Still a Long Way From Achieving Gender Equality", AIP Conference Proceedings 628, 131-132 (2002)


How to cite: Piccialli, A., Lefever, K., Vandaele, A. C., and Gielen, C.: Women in Astronomy in Belgium, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-581,, 2021.