2019 NSF AISL PI Meeting

It is with great pleasure that the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) hosts the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program Principal Investigator (PI) Meeting February 11-13, 2019, at the Westin Alexandria in Alexandria, VA. All PIs of NSF AISL and Science Learning+ projects are encouraged to attend. 

The meeting is supported with funding from NSF and the UK-based Economic and Social Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. ​

More details about the 2019 NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning Principal Investigator Meeting can be found in our program booklet

The Project Showcase is an opportunity to meet colleagues, share your work and challenges, and gain a sense of the richness of the NSF AISL portfolio. This year, it will take place Tuesday evening, February 12 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Every NSF AISL and Science Learning+ project is required to contribute one representation. As indicated in the meeting registration, this can be a poster or a digital representation. If you are a member of a collaborative award, or if multiple members of a project are attending, you need only to bring one representation.

Join Us in Trying Something New

For questions or concerns about the information below, please email Martin Storksdieck, CAISE co-PI at storksdieck@oregonstate.edu and Melissa Ballard, CAISE Communications and Community Manager, at mballard@informalscience.org.

Affinity Groups. Beginning at 5 p.m., you will gather with a small group of about 10 colleagues, and spend a dedicated 30 minutes getting to know each other’s projects and challenges. While there are many ways AISL projects can be aggregated, these “affinity” groups will be pre-assigned, selected by CAISE and reviewed by NSF program officers. We suggest that everyone prepare a two-minute “elevator speech” that briefly communicates the focus of their project, the representation they brought, and the question or challenge in which they would like others to engage during the first 30 minutes of the showcase. NEW: If you are representing multiple projects, please let the showcase organizers which project you'd like to grouped by.

Showcase Rotations. During the remainder of the Project Showcase, we’ll go through two 30-minute rotations (with time for transition). You will be assigned to stand stationary and present your project to passersby for 30 minutes, and in the other rotation, you can explore other projects. A map provided by CAISE can be used to locate who you’d like to talk to. Please note that NSF Program Officers, representatives from other federal agencies, and possibly other invited guests from Congress and the media will be in attendance during this time. The showcase ends at 7 p.m. NEW: If you are representing multiple projects, you do not need to present or create a poster for both. Choose ONE, and let us know. Representatives of Collaborative Research projects should work as a team to create one presentation.

After the meeting, we ask that you update your project page on InformalScience.org with your poster or the URL to your digital representation. Please convert posters to a PDF. Use the Submit a Resource function (note that you must be a member of the site to do this). If you experience any difficulties, please email librarian@informalscience.org.

How to “Frame” Your Representation

Whether you bring a poster or digital representation, please focus on a specific question or challenge that might be of the greatest interest to the audience of a PI meeting. Your poster or digital presentation should not be a broad and exhaustive overview of your entire project, but rather a focused aspect of your project you would most like to discuss with colleagues. Hence, it should be guided by a clear prompt or question that will spur your colleagues to engage with you during and after the meeting. For example, “I’m struggling with…” or “I’m most interest in discussing…” might encourage others with expertise to offer resources, or those with similar challenges to reach out in dialogue. In addition, we encourage you to consider the following issues:

  • Ask yourself, no matter the AISL project type, what problem are practitioners facing? How does your project address this or make contributions to it?
  • If there are one or more theoretical foundations that your work draws upon, state those so that others can see what you’re building on.

Bringing a Poster?

  1. We encourage you to move away from the traditional text-heavy research poster that typically includes research questions, methods, findings, etc. Instead, include the tailored information and context your colleagues need to know in order to engage with your “ask”. Photos and graphics can be used strategically to help tell a story. We encourage you to be creative!
  2. As you are designing your poster, consider what people can reasonably see, read, and quickly process from a few feet away. The American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentations offers helpful advice and real examples of how to do this.  
  3. Posters should be 36” tall by 48” wide (91 cm by 121 cm), oriented horizontally. We recommend leaving 3 inches of white space between the edge of the poster and your content.
  4. CAISE provides each project a cardboard tabletop display board, as well as clips to affix your poster to it.
  5. Make sure to refer the new guidance on using the NSF logo.
  6. On occasion, NSF is called on to share posters of funded work. NSF Program Officer Ellen McCallie will gladly take any posters that you don’t want to take back home at the end of the Project Showcase for this use.

Bringing a Digital Representation?

Some NSF AISL projects, particularly those in media, film, cyber-learning, and gaming, or those whose primary project product is a website, app, or other media product, may find that it makes more sense to bring a digital representation rather than (or in addition to) a poster. Here’s what you should know:

  1. WiFi is available throughout the meeting space. However, if you are streaming a video, we recommend also having the file(s) downloaded to your device as backup.
  2. Have a plan for helping others easily find your media product on their own. While websites often have an easy-to-remember URL, videos might not. In this case, you might create a custom URL with one of the many shortening service providers (e.g. bit.ly/STEMmatters)
  3. For videos, make it accessible by adding closed captioning. Both YouTube and Vimeo have built-in functionality to add captions and subtitles, and there are a variety of commercial services you can utilize.
  4. Make sure your device is fully charged prior to the Project Showcase, as there will not be access to electrical outlets, and extension cords will not be provided.


You are welcome to bring handouts or fliers for distribution during the Project Showcase. If you’d like to feature a report or longer document, we suggest bringing two to three copies that stay at your station.

CAISE is unable to make copies for you on site, so please bring them with you. There is a FedEx Office Print & Ship Center near the hotel (6-minute walk).

The Westin Alexandria 

400 Courthouse Square

Alexandria, Virginia 22314-5700

Getting to the Westin

Map and Airport information

Getting Around

Free King Street Trolley

DC Metrorail

Closest Metro Stops:

King Street (Blue and Yellow Lines)

 - 0.5 mile walk from hotel

Eisenhower Avenue (Yellow Line) 

 - 0.4 mile walk from hotel

Things to do in Alexandria


Old Town

Local Restaurants




Any questions should be directed to the CAISE Project Manager, Rachel Diamond at rdiamond@informalscience.org.

Return to the main AISL PI Meetings page.