OSP FO# 11-125

AGENCY: National Science Foundation (NSF)/Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR)/Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL)

PROGRAM: Informal Science Education (ISE)

OBJECTIVES: This program supports projects that promote lifelong learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by the public through investments in research, development, infrastructure and capacity-building for STEM learning outside of formal school settings.

ISE will accept proposals for five types of projects:

Research Projects – Research projects should aim to advance knowledge in the informal STEM learning field rather than to develop specific deliverables for implementation. A research project may involve the creation of new learning resources, applications, media, artifacts, programs, or environments if these are necessary to answer the research questions or test hypotheses that are posed. However, the primary objective is to answer the research question, not to produce such learning resources. Research projects may be empirical studies, methodological advances, or theoretical studies intended to move the field forward.

Connecting Researchers and Public Audiences (CPRA) projects – CRPA projects provide and opportunity for NSF-funded researchers to convey to diverse audiences key features of their research such as the methods, results, and significance. This project is an effort to broaden the impacts of NSF research by promoting the general public’s STEM literacy and engagement with research in out-of-school settings. To encourage the use of best practices in informal science education, collaborations with informal science education institutions and/or professionals in the design and implementation of project activities are required.

Projects will be based on current NSF research awards (or be submitted within 12 months after their final expiration date). Any research subject area supported by NSF is eligible for CRPA funding and collaborations that incorporate multiple research proposals and scientists to address a common theme are also appropriate. The research award results may be communicated to the public by any platform (such as media presentations, exhibits, youth-based activities, web-based, or cyber-enabled learning) using contemporary, evidenced-based approaches.

Pathways Projects – Pathways projects include planning activities, pilot studies, and feasibility studies, or, in general, innovative work that is on a path toward a major project (Research, Full-Scale Development, or Broad Implementation) but that needs to address critical issues or decisions before major projects can be formulated. Pathways proposals should be more focused than general planning work normally required for submission of a major proposal, and should result in lessons learned that can inform the informal science education field as well as the project team.

Full-Scale Development projects – Full-Scale Development projects generate an innovative idea or approach to informal science education, create a full working version, and evaluate its effectiveness. Such initiatives can enhance STEM learning by the public, increase capacity of the professional audience, contribute to the informal science education infrastructure, or embrace several of these goals. While many Full-Scale Development projects create complete STEM learning resources, programs, or experiences, they need to be guided by an explicit conceptual framework and should generate significant knowledge about impact and efficacy.

Broad Implementation projects – Broad Implementation projects are expected to substantially broaden the reach of products or programs in the informal science education field that have demonstrated success with the audience they already reach without sacrificing quality. Definitions of expanded reach may include, but are not limited to, geography, age, socio-economic status, cultural / linguistic group, gender, or learning setting. Broad Implementation projects will generally, but not necessarily, extend work done with prior ISE program funding. Proposals must describe substantive evidence from summative evaluations or efficacy studies that the already-developed educational products are effective with some populations or in some settings and are ready for wider distribution to a broader population or new setting(s). It is likely that such projects will involve innovative integration or incremental improvements or adaptations.

Preliminary Proposals (optional, but encouraged for new applicants): August 12, 2011
Full Proposals: January 11, 2012
CPRA projects may be submitted at any time.

FUNDING INFORMATION: The NSF expects to make approximately 60 awards: 8 Research, 8 Pathways, 17 Full-Scale Development, 3 Broad Implementation, and up to 24 Connecting Researchers and Public Audiences awards based on anticipated funding of $28 million in FY 2012. Research projects may request a project period of up to three years with a maximum award is $1.2 million. Pathways projects may request a project period of up to two years with a maximum award of $250,000. Full-Scale Development projects may request a project period of up to five years and a total budget of up to $3 million. Broad Implementation projects project period of up to five years and a total budget of up to $3 million. Connecting Researchers and Public Audiences projects may request a project period of up to two years with a maximum award of $150,000.
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
Telephone: (703) 292-8616
Email: drlise@nsf.gov
Web: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11546/nsf11546.htm

REMARKS: Applications must be submitted electronically using either the NSF FastLane system or Grants.gov. Collaborative proposals must be submitted via FastLane. For more information about FastLane, or to register as a FastLane user, please contact India Adams (adamsi@bu.edu) or A. B. Effgen (abeffgen@bu.edu) in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at x3-4365. Information about Grants.gov for BU Investigators can be obtained on the OSP web site at: http://www.bu.edu/osp/proposal-preparation/electronic-submission/. In addition, for investigators interested in submitting proposals via Grants.gov, NSF has published the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide which may be found online at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/docs/grantsgovguide.pdf. Investigators should contact the OSP Assistant Director assigned to their school or department as soon as possible to coordinate submission through either FastLane or Grants.gov.

Complete program guidelines and application material (NSF 11-546 and NSF GPG 11-1) may be obtained from the web site listed above or from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Please distribute this notice to any faculty or staff members who might be interested in the information. For more information, please contact the OSP at X3-4365 or ospinfo@bu.edu, or visit the OSP web site at http://www.bu.edu/osp.