National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning

Date Posted:
Deadline for Notice of Intent (NOI):08/11/17
Agency Deadline:11/06/17
Limit on Number of Proposals:Three as lead institution- KU-L and KUMC: Considered independent organizations.
Sponsor Website:
Pivot Link:

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public 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 engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

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.

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.
  3. Innovations in Development – The Innovations in Development project type is expected to result in deliverables such as exhibits, media products, 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.
  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.
  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. Applicants 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.
  6. Conferences - 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.

Limits for funding requests of AISL proposals are as follows: (1) Pilots and Feasibility projects: up to $300,000 with durations up to two years; (2) Research in Service to Practice projects: from $300,000 to $2,000,000 with durations from two to five years; (3) Innovations in Development projects: $500,000 to $3,000,000 with durations from two to five years; (4) Broad Implementation projects from$1,000,000 to $3,000,000 with durations from three to five years; (5) Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-analyses projects up to$250,000 with durations of up to two years; and (6) Conferences up to $250,000 with durations of up to two years.

Limited Submission Proposals Procedure:
Notice of Intent Procedure:

If you are interested in submitting to this opportunity, please Click Here * to submit a Notice of Intent form. You will be asked to provide your name and the names of any KU Co-PIs or senior personnel on the project team.

Please contact if you have questions or experience any difficulty submitting the NOI form.

Please submit your NOI form or send an email NOI to, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 11, 2017.

If the number of interested parties exceeds the mandated limit, the respondents will be asked to submit a brief pre-proposal for review by an internal selection committee.

If you have any questions about the solicitation or the process described above, please contact Nancy Biles at or 864-7434.


Contact:Nancy Biles: 785-864-7434