Scientists and Public Engagement



Scientists can collaborate with the informal STEM education (ISE) community and use informal STEM learning strategies to engage the public with the content, process and broader impacts  of their research. ISE experiences and settings, such as citizen science projects, exhibits, out-of-school time programs, science cafes, and more, provide opportunities for scientists to share their questions and findings with new audiences and to leverage design strategies drawn from research about how people learn. Knowledge about successful Informal STEM education approaches has become increasingly accessible to natural and physical scientists, mathematicians, engineers and others who plan, propose, develop and implement outreach, engagement, education, communication and broader impacts activities for a variety of audiences. There are also growing numbers of informal STEM education institutions, programs, projects and individuals that have experience and expertise in collaborating with the scientific community to design and evaluate these types of experiences. Together, these developments have resulted in new connectivity and resources that can be used to help identify experienced, expert collaborators as well as to develop innovative ideas and approaches to planning and proposing engagement activities that build on best practices.

Scholarship on value of ISE

Broader Impacts

Every National Science Foundation grant proposal is reviewed based on two criteria--intellectual merit, and broader impacts.  Broader impacts refers to the potential of research to not only advance knowledge, but to benefit society.  This can come through broadening participation in STEM, tackling societal challenges, and advancing the public understanding of science.  Scientists can strengthen the broader impacts of their proposals by collaborating with informal STEM education professionals, who bring their own expertise in communicating with diverse publics through rigorously evaluated experiences and settings.

Broader Impacts Organizations & Tools

Publications for Broader Impacts Planning 

Evaluation & Assessment

What evidence indicates that an informal STEM education project is informed by best practices and has achieved its intended impacts? Evaluation, carefully designed and conducted in collaboration with project developers, has been integral to helping informal STEM professionals develop more effective activities and settings via regular ’formative‘ feedback and be accountable to their learning goals.


The project, evaluation and learning research resources in the repository  are collected, curated, and regularly updated for use in developing, as well as in assessing the effectiveness of, education, outreach and broader impacts plans, proposals, and activities.


Professional Organizations That Support Scientists Who Engage the Public

ISE Projects that Engage Scientists