2014 NSF AISL Awards: Professional Development, Conferences & Networks

November 17th, 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.

Conference, Symposia, and Workshop: Engaging the Science Center Community in Defining and Utilizing Impact Metrics

This pair of workshops will focus on how to better understand the influence that interactive science centers have on youth and adults’ long-term understanding, interest and engagement with science and technology. The first workshop will frame specific research questions, and the second will discuss the results of data collection and an initial analysis. The goal of the workshops is to use the collective wisdom of dozens of active professionals from across the country to develop strategies for grounding research in practice, incorporating research results into practice, and bringing important research findings to a broader national audience.


Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts and Sciences

Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts and Sciences (EP) project will develop and refine a model for integrating Indigenous and informal and formal K-20 educators in ecological restoration, project-based learning, and professional development. The project will integrate the expertise of university social, physical, life and learning scientists and community and tribal practitioners to design, develop and test informal STEM learning incorporating ecological restoration, citizen science and cultural diversity.


Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science – Synthetic Biology (Innovations in Development)

This project will create conversations in science museums among scientists, engineers, and public audiences about the emerging field of synthetic biology. It will explore how to get scientists, engineers, and publics to engage together in discussions about the societal implications of emerging technologies, and how to evaluate the quality of that engagement for both the researchers and publics involved. The project will also provide a sense of informed public views on societal issues related to synthetic biology that will emerge through a variety of public engagement activities that take place in science museums.


National Parks and Communities Climate Adaptation Workshop

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), in collaboration with the National Park Service and other organizations, will organize a climate adaptation science and education workshop that will focus on engaging diverse public audiences in learning about climate adaptation. The participants, which include community members, research scientists, park staff, and others, will assess and develop research findings that reveal the potential of place-based contexts as settings for learning.


This project brings together libraries, informal educators and STEM education and research organizations to discuss the role of libraries in STEM out-of-school time (OST) education, share existing programs, define library needs, and develop a research and evaluation agenda. The conference’s four strands will showcase successful STEM programs and review research and evaluation results on informal STEM learning in public libraries; examine the current needs, barriers, and opportunities of public libraries; elucidate the possible future roles of public libraries in the 21st Century, and identify promising practices and strategies.