National Science Foundation (NSF)
01/12/21 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time
Grants to USA nonprofits, for-profits, IHEs, and government agencies to strengthen the quality of STEM education for the general public. Funding is intended for a broad range of projects that provide the public with access to STEM learning. Eligible proposals must demonstrate clear rationales describing why a project is primarily informal and how it adds value to the informal STEM learning community.
AISL seeks to (a) advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments; (b) provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; (c) advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and (d) engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.
The AISL program's priorities are: (1) Maximizing Strategic Impact, (2) Enhancing Knowledge-Building, (3) Promoting Innovation, (4) Advancing Collaboration, (5) Strengthening Infrastructure and Building Capacity, and (6) Broadening Participation.
AISL projects engage participants drawn from both public and professional audiences.
For more information on priorities and audiences, see the program solicitation:
The AISL program supports six types of projects:
1) Pilots and Feasibility Studies
These projects offer opportunities for practitioners and researchers to investigate issues in and approaches to informal STEM learning and to establish the basis for future research, design, and development of innovations or approaches. Such initial exploratory development work and pilot or feasibility studies should produce evidence, findings, and/or prototype deliverables that help the team make critical decisions about future work. These proposals may include high-risk strategies or methods that need exploration (piloting) before further research and development is justifiable.
2) Research in Service to Practice
The Research in Service to Practice (RSP) project type focuses on research that advances knowledge and the evidence base for practices, assumptions, broadening participation, or emerging educational arrangements in STEM learning in informal environments, including the science of science communication (NAS, 2017). For these proposals it is important for practice to inform the research as well as having research inform practice. Genuine partnerships between researchers and practitioners are required, such that the project is important and relevant to both research and practice.
Research takes many forms and occurs at different scales. While the range for funding is quite broad, proposers should consider small and medium scale investigations depending on the nature of research questions and focus.
3) Innovations in Development
The Innovations in Development project type is expected to result in deliverables such as exhibits, media products, after-school programs, etc., and in innovative models, programs, technologies, assessments, resources, or systems for an area of STEM learning in informal environments. As R&D projects, proposals should describe activities for the design and development of new or improved innovations or approaches to achieve specific goals related to STEM learning, engagement, and capacity building. These proposals build on evidence from the team's or the field's prior research, design, practice, and development work. It is understood that innovations take many forms and occur at different scales. While the range for funding is quite broad, proposers should consider small and medium scale innovations depending on the nature of what is being innovated.
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, evaluation, or both) of the proposed work. Iterative, design-based research approaches are encouraged, if appropriate.
4) Broad Implementation
The Broad Implementation project type supports the expansion or reach of models, programs, technologies, assessments, resources, research, or systems that have a documented record of success, innovation, or evidence-based knowledge building. The focus is on making innovations or approaches succeed when they are implemented at a larger scale. Sources of evidence may include summative evaluation or research data that indicate readiness for distribution to a broader population or new setting(s) and should be summarized in the proposal narrative.
When thinking about the focus for expansion, consider: geography, age, socio-economic status, cultural or linguistic group, race and ethnicity, gender, disability, learning setting, or another dimension. Where appropriate, investigators are encouraged to emphasize individuals from underrepresented or under-served groups as a target audience for a component or for the entire focus of the project.
5) Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-analyses
AISL supports capacity building through literature reviews, syntheses, and meta-analyses directly related to the goals of the AISL program. Proposers should be clear about which type of proposal they are submitting. A proposal should focus on a question, issue, or topic of critical importance to the AISL program.
Conference proposals should demonstrate a command of the literature and/or practice of the question, issue, or topic. Participant expertise and selection should be discussed. Conference proposals should include a conceptual framework for the conference, draft agenda, possible participant list, and the outcomes or products that will result.
For more information about the project types, see the program solicitation:
GrantWatch ID#: 154919
- Pilots and Feasibility: Up to $300,000
- Research in Service to Practice: $300,000 - $2,000,000
- Innovations in Development: $500,000 - $3,000,000
- Broad Implementation: $1,000,000 - $3,000,000
- Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-analyses: Up to $250,000
- Conferences: Up to $250,000
- Pilots and Feasibility projects are up to 2 years in duration.
- Research in Service to Practice projects are 2 - 5 years in duration.
- Innovations in Development projects are 2 - 5 years in duration.
- Broad Implementation projects are 3 - 5 years in duration.
- Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-analyses projects are up to 2 years in duration.
- Conferences are up to 2 years in duration.
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
Applications must be submitted via either FastLane or Grants.gov.
For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: email@example.com.
For administrative questions contact the Program by email at DRLAISL@nsf.gov or phone at (703) 292-8616.
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