NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning program invests in research and development of innovative and field-advancing out-of-school STEM learning and emerging STEM learning environments.

  1. Advancing - This emphasizes that AISL seeks innovative projects that advance the field and that requests need to go beyond just proposing a new exhibit, program or film.
  2. Informal - This continues to emphasize that the program is interested in out-of-school learning that makes learning Lifelong, Life Wide (occurring across multiple venues) and Life Deep (occurring at different levels of complexity).
  3. STEM - This recognizes that the program is not just focused on science, but all of STEM.
  4. Learning - This term is more appropriate than "education" based on what we know on how people learn. Also, "learning" is more connected with what people do for themselves, compared to "education" which is perceived as something that is done to them.

Key Dates (2013)

Tuesday, Jan 9:         Full proposal and budget due to ORSP (Program Dev. Specialist)
Monday, Jan 14:        Full proposal deadline to NSF

Cost Sharing:      Prohibited.
Limitations:          None.
Full Solicitation:   http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12560/nsf12560.htm

Funding ~34 awards based on anticipated funding of $20 million in FY 2013 for new awards; approximately 6 Research, 6 Pathways, 13 Full-Scale Development, 2 Broad Implementation.

Project/Proposal Types

Research: 1-5 Years; up to $1.5M per award.

  • Involve Basic or Applied research on informal learning
  • Involve creation of environments to test hypotheses, such as: assessment tools, resources, applications, media, and programs
  • Emphasize connections to the practice of informal science education
  • Involve informal organizations and practitioners
  • Advance informal STEM learning infrastructure
  • Support anytime, anywhere learning
  • Correlate content with STEM-related curricula

Pathways: up to 2 years; up to $250K per award.

  • Planning activities
  • Pilot studies
  • Feasibility studies
  • Development work

Full-Scale Development:  1-5 years; up to $3M per award.

Projects must include an innovative, field advancing concept or suggested model for any area of informal STEM learning or proposed learning environment(s), and result in the of learning resources, programs, or activities. Research component optional.

Broad Implementation: 1-5 years; up to $3M per award.

Projects to broaden the reach of proven products or programs within the informal science education field. Research component optional.

Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops: may be submitted year-round

Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

  1. How well does the project make a compelling case that the project is innovative and will advance the knowledge, practice, capacity or other critical aspects of informal STEM learning?
  2. How well does the project seek to extend access to STEM-learning opportunities to underserved audiences?
  3. How well does the project leverage local and national resources, cultural groups, and carefully chosen partners and advisory personnel to achieve more significant outcomes than would otherwise be possible?


Contact Jason Hale, Director of Research Resources, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs. 915-3922 or jghale@olemiss.edu