2018 AISL-Funded Projects

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December 11th, 2018

Almost 50 new National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) project descriptions are now cataloged on InformalScience.org from awards made in 2018.

Below, the awards are listed with their Principal Investigators’ (PIs) names and categorized by project type: Conferences, Innovations in Development, Pilots and Feasibility Studies, Post-Doctoral Fellowship Awards, Rapid Response Research (RAPID), Research in Service to Practice, and Travel Grants.

You may also use the advanced search function on InformalScience.org to sort by audience type, disciplinary content, and other tags of interest.

Pictured: At an NSF AISL Principal Investigator Meeting, PIs share findings and challenges from their projects.


A Conference on Informal STEM Learning in Rural Settings Sue Allen, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Advancing the Design of Visualizations for Informal Science Engagement Jennifer Frazier, Exploratorium
Building Bridges: Broadening the STEM Conversation in Rural Mississippi Leslie Burger, Mississippi State University
Collaborative Project Management Institute for Informal Science Institutions Lesley Markham, Association of Science-Technology Centers
Developing a Research Action Agenda for Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of STEM Programs for Girls Lynda Kennedy, Intrepid Museum Foundation
From Common Measures to Measures in Common: A Convening to Enhance Measurement of Outcomes of Afterschool STEM Programs Bronwyn Bevan, University of Washington
Practitioner Workshop for Deploying SciStarter Affiliate Tools To Support Strategic STEM Learning Darlene Cavalier, Arizona State University
Reconceiving Exhibit Design for Public Engagement with Science Dana Schloss, New York Hall of Science














Innovations in Development

These are projects that are expected to result in deliverables such as exhibits, media products, after school programs, etc., and in innovative models, programs, technologies, assessments, resources, or systems for an area of STEM learning in informal environments.

Antarctic Dinosaurs: A Giant Screen Film and Educational Outreach Deborah Raksany, Giant Screen Films
Big Astronomy in Chile through Dome+ Timothy Spuck, Associated Universities Inc / National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Building Capacity for Co-Created Public Engagement with Science David Sittenfeld, Museum of Science
Child Trends News Service: Advancing Social Science Knowledge to Benefit Hispanic Families – Phase 2 Alicia Torres, Child Trends
Convergent Learning from Divergent Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Informal Science Communication Sathya Gopalakrishnan, Ohio State University
Design Squad Maker: Researching How to Support Upper Elementary School Children’s Sustained Engagement and Participation in Engineering Design across Out-of-School Settings Mary A. Haggerty, WGBH Educational Foundation
Designing Innovative Guided Play Experiences to Empower Parents and Engage Preschool-Age Children in STEM Learning Karen Bierman, Pennsylvania State University – University Park
Designing Our Tomorrow: Mobilizing the Next Generation of Engineers Marcie Benne, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Developing the Processes and Potential to Engage Historically Underrepresented Communities in Public Participation in STEM Research Through Authentic and Impactful Collaboration Karen A. Purcell, Cornell University
Enhancing the Capacity for Rural Libraries to Engage the Public in Drought Science, Monitoring, and Adaptation Nicole M. Colston, Oklahoma State University
Explore the Science of Spring: A Live Media Event Fred Kaufman, WNET
Influencing Millennial Science Engagement Asheley R. Landrum, Texas Tech University and Sue Ellen McCann, KQED
Montana Models: Connecting Local and Disciplinary Practices through University-Community Partnerships Mary Carlson, Montana State University
On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public Linda S. Shore, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Snow: Museum Exhibit, Educational Outreach, and Learning Research

Victoria Coats, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Matthew Sturm, University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus

Transforming Outdoor Places into Learning Spaces Heather Zimmerman, Pennsylvania State University – University Park




























Pilots and Feasibility Studies

These projects offer opportunities for practitioners and researchers to investigate issues in and approaches to informal STEM learning and to establish the basis for future research, design, and development of innovations or approaches.

Akeakamai: Indigenous Explorations in Community-Based Science Learning Helen Turner, Chaminade University of Honolulu
Augmented Reality: Accessible Dynamic Informal STEM Learning for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Wendy A. Dannels, Rochester Institute of Tech
Broadening Participation by Middle-School Students in STEM via Integrating Hands-on Experiences in Science Learning Meghan E. Hill, The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
Developing A Program Model for High School Science Research, Communication and Education Experiences in Living Laboratory Rebecca E. Kipling, Museum of Science
Evaluating STEM Scouts: The Design of a Comprehensive Evaluation Plan and Feasibility Study Jennifer Urban, Montclair State University
Exhibit-Based Public Participation in Social Psychology Research Joshua Gutwill, Exploratorium
Fostering Public Engagement in Computational Thinking by Leveraging Quilting Communities and Practices Gillian M. Smith, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Anne M. Sullivan, Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Framing Research on Activities as Mathematical Experiences Andee Rubin, TERC
Growing Computer Science Literacy via Informal Learning Communities among Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Men and Women Andrew Cencini, Bennington College and Jed Tucker, Bard College
Impactathons: Student-Led Peer-to-Peer Learning in Community Social-Change Technology Projects Chris Benner, University of California-Santa Cruz
Informal Learning Pathways through Mapathons for Military and Veteran Communities Patricia A. Solis, Texas Tech University
MathScapes: Activating Public Spaces for Early Math Learning Omowale J. Moses, Young People’s Project, Inc.
Using Game Design Mechanics as Metaphors to Enhance Learning of Introductory Programming Concepts Magy Seif El-Nasr, Northeastern University





















Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award

Promising, early career doctoral-level scientists are provided two years of training under the sponsorship of established scientists, and encouraged to perform independent research.

Exploring High-Quality and Culturally Responsive Math Afterschool Program Practices for Under-Represented Minority Youth Dr. Mark Vincent B. Yu was awarded a two-year postdoctoral fellowship under the sponsorship of Dr. Sandra D. Simpkins at the University of California, Irvine.





Rapid Response Research (RAPID)

NSF funded these projects as part of a 2017 Dear Colleague Letter in response to Hurricane Harvey, and are intended to enable the U.S. to better prepare for, respond to, recover from, or mitigate future catastrophic events.

PBS NewsHour Coverage of Post-Harvey Research of Extreme Weather Patti Parson, Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association
Teen Science Cafes: Technology in Response to Floods Caused by Hurricane Harvey Janice Mokros, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance






Research in Service to Practice

These projects focus on research that advances knowledge and the evidence base for practices, assumptions, broadening participation, or emerging educational arrangements in STEM learning in informal environments, including the science of science communication.

A Social Programmable Robot: Fostering Rapport to Improve Computer Science Skills and Attitudes Amy Ogan, Carnegie-Mellon University and Erin Walker, Arizona State University
Effective Environmental Workshop Facilitation and Local Community Action Lara J.Hansen, EcoAdapt and Marc Stern, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Impacts of STEM Experiences on Informal STEM Learning Robert H. Tai, University of Virginia
LabVenture – Revealing Systemic Impacts of a 12-Year Statewide Science Field Trip Program Leigh Peake, Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Multimodal Visitor Analytics: Investigating Naturalistic Engagement with Interactive Tabletop Science Exhibits James C. Lester, North Carolina State University
Re-Living Paleontology: Studying How Augmented Reality Immersion and Interaction Impact Engagement and Communicating Science to the Public Emily Lindsey, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation and Benjamin Nye, University of Southern California
The Role of Mentorship in Persistence in Informal STEM Programs for Under-represented Youth Mizuko Ito, University of California-Irvine
Teaching Together: Engaging Parents and Preschoolers in STEM Activities & Academic Conversations Tricia A. Zucker, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston















Travel Grants

Connecting Practitioners and Scholars in Public Participation in STEM Research and in Community-Based Environmental Science to Enhance Informal STEM Learning Caren B. Cooper, Friends of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences