From left: Co-Principal Investigators Bronwyn Bevan, Martin Storksdieck, Kevin Crowley, Cecilia Garibay, and James Bell (Principal Investigator)

The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education(CAISE) works in cooperation with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancing Informal Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Learning (AISL) Program to build and advance the informal STEM education field by providing infrastructure, resources and connectivity for educators, researchers, evaluators, and other interested stakeholders. CAISE also convenes inquiry groups, workshops and principal investigator meetings designed to facilitate discussion and identify the needs and opportunities for informal STEM learning practitioners working in media (TV, radio, film, social), science centers and museums, zoos and aquariums, parks, botanical gardens and nature centers, events and festivals, libraries, making and tinkering spaces, cyberlearning and gaming,and youth, community, and out-of-school time programs.

Established in 2007, CAISE operates as a network of core staff at the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) in Washington, D.C. and co-principal investigators and other collaborators at academic institutions and informal STEM education (ISE) organizations across the U.S. CAISE seeks to characterize, highlight and connect quality, evidence-based informal STEM learning work supported by a diversity of federal, local and private funders by providing access to over 8,000 (and growing) resources that include project descriptions, research literature, evaluation reports and other documentation on the InformalScience.org website.


CAISE Co-Principal Investigators

NSF Resource Centers

As a resource center funded by the NSF’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Environments (DRL) within the Education and Human Resources (EHR) directorate CAISE complements the work of other NSF resource centers, including:

Together these Centers serve the larger professional STEM education ecosystem, and each has tailored resources and tools that can be used to design, implement, evaluate, research and disseminate the work of STEM education experiences and settings.


In September of 2016, CAISE received a new 5-year award from NSF to explore opportunities for synergy among those who conduct and/or study informal STEM learning and science communication and public engagement activities. CAISE will provide forums and spaces for these communities to come together to address the common challenges of sustaining connections between practice and research, building understanding of and capacity for evaluation and measurement and broadening participation of underrepresented groups in STEM.  By catalyzing mutual learning and sharing moments and structures, CAISE hopes to build new and strengthen existing connections between professionals and the growing bodies of knowledge in these fields. CAISE will coordinate these efforts with the work of the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net), the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI), the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society, the Research + Practice Collaboratory and others as appropriate.

Popular CAISE Resources

All documentation and products of CAISE’s work can be found on the InformalScience.org website, a curated repository of project descriptions, evaluation reports, research, and grey literature related to informal STEM learning. Some of CAISE’s most accessed resources include Inquiry Group white papers on Public Engagements with Science, Public Participation in Scientific Research (Citizen Science, e.g.), Collaborations Between Informal Science Education and Schools and the Informal STEM Education: Resources for Outreach, Engagement and Broader Impacts report written in 2016 for STEM researchers. Other CAISE products include the Principal Investigator's Guide to Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Projects, and summary papers from convenings on evaluation capacity building, shared/common measures and assessments, practice and research and the National Science Foundation Inclusion Across the Nation of Community of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) initiative. Information about and materials from all CAISE convenings can be found here.

If you have any questions about CAISE or InformalScience.org, please contact us at caise@informalscience.org.

Major CAISE Activities