Tips for Developing a Project

Posted by
Suzanne Perin
November 02, 2017


New and updated content on the Develop Projects pages provide a primer on starting, planning, proposing and managing a project from start to finish. For those new to informal science education (ISE), or experienced educators looking for a refresher, the new content is a step-by-step guide to the lifecycle of a STEM project that applies to a variety of informal learning settings. Even if you have experience in other fields - such as in-school educators, or scientists who wish to include an informal STEM component to broaden the impacts of their primary research, these pages provide information that applies to the unique angle of out-of-school learning.

Developing a Project

Conceiving a new project is exhilarating! Planning begins with imagining the program, impacts, audiences to reach, and how to implement all of the aspects of a project that will bring your ideas to fruition. This page outlines concrete steps from beginning to end, including key elements within informal education projects that you need to consider right from the start.

Learn from Experience

The informal STEM education community has been sharing project successes and failures, educational research, and wisdom from practice for years. Together, the Learn from Experience page and what empirical research in informal STEM education tells us include a wealth of resources to help you immerse yourself in this collective expertise and create innovative projects that build on experience and research. In contrast to what the ISE field knows about learning, specific gaps and issues in ISE research have been identified, and your ISE project could contribute to valuable knowledge for the field at large.


Searching for an appropriate funding source and writing a proposal is a time-consuming process. Start your search for funding with the list of informal STEM funding sources and review tips on this page for preparing a strong proposal.

Reporting & Dissemination

After funding is received and the project is underway, most funders will require periodic updates about progress. This page details the types of information that funders will want to know about your project, so you can anticipate it from the start. But sharing the outcomes and lessons learned from your project isn’t limited to the funder - the STEM learning community relies on dissemination activities to generate collective knowledge. (The National Science Foundation Project Outcomes reports are a good example.) This page provides a number of outlets to consider for dissemination activities that are common in the informal STEM field.

With so much to consider as you prepare a proposal and frame your project’s innovation niche, where should you begin? It would be helpful to start with these three key areas  on the website: the Developing Projects pages for tips on how to prepare an ISL proposal, the differences between evaluation and research on the Evaluation Page, and take a look what the field has learned from informal STEM education research through the many reports and peer-reviewed education journals you can access through the page. These pages address common questions for newcomers and experienced educators alike. After reviewing these resources simply follow your interests around the site to see what relevant information you can find for your project. And of course, as you implement your project, we encourage you to remember to share what you learn back to the ISE community via the repository as well!