Skip to main content


Over the years, CAISE has brought together informal STEM education (ISE) practitioners, researchers, evaluators, funders, and other stakeholders to explore and discuss current learning approaches and trends in the ISE field. These convenings are part of CAISE's effort to connect related work across field sectors and catalyze innovative ideas for future research and development. The convening outcomes result in new resources for and have informed the agendas of National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program Principal Investigator meetings and other national ISE forums.

ISE Organizational Networks (2011)

The intent of this convening was to deepen the ISE field's understanding about the benefits, challenges and unexplored opportunities that working in networks provides. Organizational networks comprises an important portion of the ISE program portfolio; participants included ISE-funded projects identified as representative of the type of network structures to explore and generate new thinking and knowledge about.

Media Convening (2011)

This convening was held in order to identify and prioritize critical issues faced by ISE media producers, and then develop a set of shared objectives to collectively begin to organize around. Participants clearly identified needs such as wanting to learn more about each other's projects, building a better evidence base to articulate the impacts and value of ISE media, and the need to bring more young professionals into the community. 

ISE Professional Development (2012)

ISE Professional Development convened principal investigators, project evaluators, NSF program officers, two outside experts and other project staff from around the country who represented a range of informal science education sectors, including science centers and museums, theater, broadcast media, after school programs, and libraries to deepen the ISE field's understanding about the unique challenges and unexplored opportunities that ISE professional development projects provide.

Sustainability Science and ISE (2012)

The intent of the Sustainability Science and ISE convening was to deepen our collective understanding of sustainability science, explore how the ISE field can build capacity in this area, and to discuss future directions for our projects, NSF's investments, and the field writ large.

Broader Impacts and ISE (2013)

CAISE convened a working meeting of ISE professionals, leaders of STEM research education and public outreach efforts and representatives from science professional associations to brainstorm ways to enhance the organization and expand the metadata framework of the website to better address and reflect the needs, interests, and language of scientists and university/laboratory/industry directors of education and public outreach.

Evaluation Capacity Building (2013)

CAISE launched the initiative through teleconferences with working groups and an online forum that informed a convening of 40 experts from across informal science education and related fields. These activities identified trends and critical needs in the practice of ISE evaluation and developed directions for resources, training, and other supports to advance the profession and the field.

Palo Alto Convening on Assessment in Informal Settings (2013)

Six informal science education (ISE) assessment projects met in Palo Alto, CA for a 2-day exploration of the state of the art of measuring the impact of informal STEM education experiences. The goals for the meeting were to explore in depth the technical and practical details of the assessments, share and critique findings, and review plans for ongoing work to validate and refine measures.

Practice-and-Research (January 2013)

At the first of two convenings, Practice-and-Research (PaR) convening participants identified areas of opportunity for exploration and potential resource-generation, and grappled with the notion of a research and development agenda for the field writ large that would reflect the multiple agendas of the variety of informal STEM learning sectors and range of grain sizes of potential research questions that would usefully inform practice. 

Practice-and-Research (April 2013)

Practice-and-Research (PaR) held a working group convening in April 2013 following the large convening earlier in the year. The working group used categories raised at the first convening to develop a “roadmap” of areas in which research questions with relevance across ISE sectors could fit.

Broader Impacts and ISE (2015)

CAISE convened a strategic planning meeting of NSF program directors, CAISE co-PIs and staff to discuss how NSF centers and projects are already, and might in the future, address their education, outreach and broader impacts needs through exploring the wide variety of opportunities available in informal science education.