New National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program Solicitation Released

The National Science Foundation released the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) solicitation, posted July 29, 2015: (NSF 15-593).

In 2012 the name of the program has changed from Informal Science Education (ISE) to Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL). AISL better emphasizes the priorities of the solicitation and the changes at NSF:

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.

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).

STEM: This recognizes that the program is not just focused on science, but all of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Learning: Whether for personal satisfaction, professional advancement, or fulfilling learning requirements for pre-K through graduate and professional education, there are increasing opportunities for learning in informal environments. These personalized learning options and participatory learning environments are also expanding and broadening participation in STEM. Recent reports encourage measuring learning outcomes in such terms as interest, engagement, motivation, behavior, identity, persistence, understanding, awareness, knowledge, and use of STEM content and practices, and 21st century skills.

The AISL program is one of several grant programs in NSF's Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). The AISL program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning 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 develop understandings of deeper learning by participants.

Important Information and Revision Notes from NSF 15-593:

  1. A new proposal type, Collaborative Planning, has been added.
  2. The "Pathways" project type is renamed to "Exploratory Pathways" to strengthen the understanding that these are early stage, proof-of-concept projects.
  3. The “Conferences, Symposia, & Workshops” is renamed to “Conferences” to align with the PAPPG;
  4. Science Learning +, a type of Research in Service to Practice proposal, is described in a separate solicitation and is therefore no longer included here.
  5. This solicitation clarifies research and evaluation for AISL projects.
  6. The program will fund up to one Informal STEM Learning Resource Center in FY16.
  7. For projects with a goal of broadening participation as a component of their Intellectual Merit and/or Broader Impacts, a new program-specific review criterion has been added.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 16-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.

Proposers should familiarize themselves with the Merit Review Principles and Criteria described in GPG Chapter IIIA. For comprehensive materials visit the Revised Merit Review Criteria Resource site.

For more information about AISL and funding opportunities:

view the AISL solicitation