2014 NSF AISL Awards: Media & Technology

November 13th, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds approximately 30-35 projects each year across diverse informal learning sectors such as media and technology, exhibitions, public programs, and professional development. These are the most recent set of AISL awards related to media and technology. Click on each award’s title to view their project page for more information about project contributors, goals, and methodologies.

AISL Pathways: The Role of Story in Games to Teach Computer Science Concepts to Middle School Girls

This Pathways project will create a game designed to promote interest in computer science among middle school girls. The design aims to determine the overall effectiveness of teaching computer science concepts under three types of gaming conditions—games alone, games with fictional settings, and games with stories.

Amazon Adventure: A Giant Screen Film, Educational Outreach and Research About 2D, 3D & Dome Formats Using a Gaming Assessment Tool

This integrated research and media project will produce a giant screen film exploring the concept of biological mimicry told through the lens of the life story of Henry Bates and his travels through the Amazon rainforest. The film will be produced in multiple formats in order to gather evidence on how giant screen, 2D dome, and 2D flat formats influence learning.

Assessing Science Engagement Through Social Media – NOVA scienceNOW season 7

This project will explore science engagement on social media when integrated with broadcast television. The project will produce six new episodes of NOVA scienceNOW which will be paired with a social media initiative. The research will delve into what this kind of social media engagement looks like, who participates, why and how it happens, and the depth of engagement.

Design Squad Global

This project builds on the success of Design Squad, a PBS reality series designed to inspire a new generation of engineers. This project will create accessible resources designed to bring informal engineering to a global audience through afterschool activities. The project will provide evidence on how these resources and collaborations can build children’s understanding of engineering, motivation to participate, and confidence to take informed action to address global problems.

Potential for everyday learning in a virtual community: A design-based investigation

This project will extend the existing YardMap citizen science infrastructure to discover how to foster learning in socially-networked citizen science communities. The new infrastructure will allow users to co-create interactive virtual worlds to try out new ideas. This will enable the YardMap team to study the relationships between learning and behavior change and the influences each has on the other.

ScienceKit for ScienceEverywhere – A Seamless Scientizing Ecosystem for Raising Scientifically-Minded Children

This proposal aims to use mobile devices and strategically placed shared kiosks to ‘scientize’ youth in two low-income communities, creating environments where children connect their learning across contexts and time. Research will help determine how the technology can best be deployed, but also answer questions about how communities can provide support to help kids think like scientists and identify with science.

Innovations in Development: The Use of Mobile Applications for Informal Learning in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

This project will develop a mobile application to allow visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to access details about park features. Research will address what outcomes associated with the use of GPS-based mobile learning systems could inform future development and implementation, and what contributions such applications have on informal science learning as understood through the six strands outlined in the Learning Science in Informal Environments report.

Pathways: GrACE: A Procedurally Generated Puzzle Game to Stimulate Mindful and Collaborative Informal Learning to Transform Computer Science Education

This Pathways project will design, test, and study GrACE, a procedurally generated puzzle game for teaching computer science to middle school students. The Principal Investigators will study the effect of computer generated games on students’ development of algorithmic and computational thinking skills and their change of perception about computer science through the game’s gender-inclusive, minds-on, and collaborative learning environment.

TV Weathercasters and Climate Education: Expanding the Reach of Climate Matters

The goal of this three-year initiative is to expand the implementation of a currently active and proven climate education method delivered by TV weathercasters around the country. The guiding hypothesis is that there will be a dose-response relationship between the extent of TV weathercaster use of Climate Matters materials in a community (i.e., a media market) and change over time in viewers’ understanding of the climate.

UTRAC: Using Technology to Research After Class

This Pathways project explores whether a combination of technology (e.g., iPad-enabled sensors, web-based inquiry-focused portal) and facilitated visits improves learning outcomes for rural and Native American elementary-age youth in afterschool programs. It will advance understanding of informal education’s potential to improve STEM engagement, knowledge, skills and attitudes by quantifying how—and to what extent—youth engage with emerging technologies iPad-enabled sensors, and crowdsourcing and visualization tools.