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Deadline: November 14, 2014

National Science Foundation: Advancing Informal STEM Learning

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and develop understandings of deeper learning by participants.

The program supports six types of projects: (1) Pathways, (2) Research in Service to Practice, (3) Innovations in Development, (4) Broad Implementation, (5) Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops, and (6) Science Learning+ Proposals (proposals in this category were due on July 10 in 2014).

  1. Pathways projects allow practitioners and researchers an opportunity to undertake exploratory development work or feasibility studies that have the potential to lead to the submission of innovative, field-advancing proposals of other project types, such as Research in Service to Practice or Innovations in Development. This type of project should produce evidence, findings, and/or deliverables that form the basis of anticipated further innovative, or potentially transformative, research and development work. The proposal needs to explicitly state how the project informs future work and how it contributes to the advancement of STEM learning in informal environments.
  2. Research in Service to Practice projects specifically focus on research that advances knowledge and the evidence base for practices, assumptions, broadening participation, and emerging educational arrangements in STEM learning in informal environments. Successful research proposals identify a need for knowledge building in order to better understand or improve practice.
  3. The Innovations in Development project type is specifically expected to result in innovative models, programs, technologies, assessments, resources, and/or systems for any area of STEM learning in informal environments. Projects should build on evidence from prior development and research efforts in the field. An explicit theoretical framework as well as either a logic model or theory of action should guide projects. In addition, proposals must articulate a plan and process for the design, development, implementation, and evidence -building components (based on research and/or evaluation) of the proposed work. Iterative, design-based research approaches are encouraged, if appropriate.
  4. The Broad Implementation project type specifically supports the expansion of models, programs, technologies, assessments, resources, research, and/or systems that have a documented record of success, innovation, and/or evidence -based knowledge building. The documentation may include summative evaluation or research data that indicates readiness for distribution to a broader population or new setting(s). The focus of expanded reach may include, but is not limited to, geography, age, socio-economic status, cultural/linguistic group, race and ethnicity, gender, disability, or learning setting. Where appropriate, investigators are encouraged to emphasize individuals from underrepresented or underserved groups as a target audience for a component or for the entire focus of the project.
  5. Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops should be well focused, relate to the goals of the AISL program, and generate product(s) usable by practitioners and researchers. The program is particularly interested in proposals that lead to, for example, the development of communities of practice, the formulation of field-advancing practice, assessments, and/or research agendas for the participating professional communities. Proposals should clearly indicate how the study contributes to the advancement of STEM learning in informal environments.


  • Pathways projects: up to $300,000 with duration up to two years
  • Research in Service to Practice projects: from $300,000 to $2,000,000 with a duration from two to five years
  • Innovations in Development projects: $500,000 to $3,000,000 with duration up to five years
  • Broad Implementation projects from $500,000 to $3,000,000 with a duration from two to five years
  • Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops projects up to $250,000 with a duration of up to two years

Eligibility: Individuals and organizations in the following categories are eligible to submit proposals: universities and colleges; not-for-profit and nonacademic organizations; for-profit organizations; local and state governments; unaffiliated individuals; foreign agencies; and other federal agencies.

Link: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14555/nsf14555.pdf

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