2019 AISL-Funded Projects

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September 30th, 2019

Fifty-three projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program are now cataloged on InformalScience.org. Start dates for these projects range from January 1, 2019 through September 1, 2019. 

Below, the awards are listed in alphabetical order by project type with their Principal Investigator(s) (first bullet) and co-Principal Investigators (second bullet), with a link to the project description.

Pictured: A breakout session at the 2019 NSF AISL Principal Investigators Meeting in Alexandria, VA.


Other Ways to Browse AISL Projects

You can also use the advanced search function on InformalScience.org to sort by audience type, disciplinary content, and other tags of interest. If you are developing an AISL proposal for the upcoming November 6 deadline, be sure to explore our many proposal development support resources. Now, on to the projects!


In 2019, there were 53 Cataloged AISL Projects 


Broad Implementation

These projects more fully explore questions and issues for which there are already preliminary findings, significant literature, or a practice base. 

Developing a Live Science Show and Educational Outreach Resources to Engage Hispanic Students and Families in the Rio Grande Valley in STEM

Karen Lozano, The University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley

Researching a Strengths-Based Approach to Engineering Education Using Design Squad LatinX

Mary Haggerty, WGBH Educational Foundation


Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program

Career awards provide stable support at a sufficient level and duration to enable awardees to develop careers not only as outstanding researchers, but also as educators demonstrating commitment to teaching, learning, and dissemination of knowledge. 

Talking Science: Early STEM Identity Formation Through Everyday Science Talk

Remy Dou, Florida International University



A Workshop to Plan The Future of the Teen Science Cafe Network

Michelle Hall, Science Education Solutions, Inc.

Communicating STEM in Natural World: Advancing Collaboration bet Sci & Media  (Conference)

Ru Mahoney, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

Exploratory Tensegrity

John McCleary, Vassar College

Exploring the Use of Non-Science Themed Art in Science Education

Aaron Price, Museum of Science and Industry

Inclusive Science Communication Symposium 2019: Building Knowledge and Capacity among Practitioners and Researchers to Foster Inclusive Public Engagement with STEM

Sunshine Menezes, University of Rhode Island

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Imaginative Thinking in Informal STEM Environments

Rebecca Kipling, Museum of Science, Boston

Storybook STEM: Professional Convening for Cross-Sector Understanding of Children’s Literature as a Tool for Supporting Informal STEM Learning

Scott Pattison, TERC


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.

A Multi-level Investigation of STEM Mentoring – Outcomes for Middle School Youth, their Mentors, and Partner Organizations

Michael Kennedy, Northwestern University

Building More Inclusive Makerspaces to Support Informal Engineering Learning Experiences

Keith Braafladt, Science Museum of Minnesota

Cambio: A Professional Development Approach for Building Latinx-focused Cultural Competence in Informal Science Education Institutions

Veronica Garcia-Luis, Exploratorium

Co-robotic Games for Low Resource Learners

Ross Higashi, Carnegie Mellon University

Cool Science: Art as a Vehicle for Intergenerational Learning

Jill Lohmeier, University of Massachusetts–Lowell; Robert Chen, University of Massachusetts–Boston; and Steven Schrock, University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc.

Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Libraries of Rural Communities

Keliann LaConte, Space Science Institute

Establishing a Learning Network to Connect Museums, Scientists and Rural Communities to Discuss Scientific Information to Inform Transdisciplinary Problem-solving

Lauren Giarratani, Carnegie Institute and Kevin Crowley, University of Pittsburgh

Fostering Enduring Interest in STEM through Exoplanet Education and Interactive Exploration and Creation of Potentially Habitable Worlds

H. Chad Lane, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Food for Thought: Igniting, Engaging, and Measuring Family STEM Learning Using a Food Lab

Bradley Morris, Kent State University

Head Start on Engineering: Developing a Learning Community to Study and Support Family-level Interest in Engineering

Annie Douglass, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Scott Pattison, TERC Inc.

Hidden No More: Shedding Light on Science Stories in the Shadows

Todd Boyette, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Innovative approaches to Informal Education in Artificial Intelligence

Elisabeth Soep, Youth Radio and Harold Abelson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Maryland Sports Data Analytics Camps for Youth

Lawrence Clark, University of Maryland College Park

Meaningful Math: News Media for Increasing Adult Statistical Literacy

Patti Parson, Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association

STAR Library Network Phase 3: Enhancing STEAM Equity and Learning Opportunities in Libraries and Their Rural Communities

Lainie Castle, American Library Association

Technology Education for Women in Transition: Broadening Participation through Innovation

Hyunjin Seo, University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. and Baek-Young Choi, University of Missouri-Kansas City

The Circuit: A Platform for Increasing Access to and Deepening Participation in Public Engagement in Science

Martin Storksdieck, Oregon State University

The STEM Ambassador Program: Supporting Scientists’ Engagement with Public Audiences

Nalini Nadkarni, University of Utah

Transforming American Indian and Alaska Native STEM Learning via Indigenous Knowledge Translation, Education, and the Environment

Jamie Donatuto, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Water in the Four Corners Region: Connecting and Engaging Communities with Their Water Systems

Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder and Keliann LaConte, Space Science Institute


Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-analyses

Projects that focus on a question, issue, or topic of critical importance to the AISL program that are explored in breadth and depth.

Addressing Societal Challenges through STEM (ASCs): Interpreting the Literature

Kristine Morrissey, New Knowledge Organization Ltd

Examining the Role of Authenticity in Informal Science Learning

James Kisiel, California State University–Long Beach Foundation


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.

Advancing Ocean Literacy through Immersive Virtual Reality

Erika Woolsey, The Hydrous and Jeremy Bailenson, Stanford University

Building Capacity in and Access to Informal STEM Learning Settings for Participants with Disabilities

Sheryl Burgstahler, University of Washington

Designing and Testing Companion Robots to Support Informal, In-home STEM Learning

Bilge Mutlu, University of Wisconsin–Madison

I Am a Scientist: Moving African American Youth Beyond Participating in STEM Activities to Committing to a STEM Identity

Harrison Pinckney, Clemson University

STEM Ecologies of Learning for Families: Supporting Intergenerational, Trauma-Informed Learning through University-Prison Partnerships

Cynthia Graville, Saint Louis University

Youth Engaging in the Science of Resilience in Urban and Rural NC

Kathleen Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE)

Bold, interdisciplinary projects expected to generate transformational advances.

RAISE: Software for Making: Programmable Geometry for Mathematics Education, Classical Stringed Instrument Design, and its Material Culture

Harry Mairson, Brandeis University


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.

Brains On! the Move: STEM Podcasts as Facilitators of Automobile-Based Family Learning Experiences

Amy Grack Nelson, Science Museum of Minnesota

Exploring the effectiveness of using humor for communicating about science

Sara Yeo, University of Utah

Exploring the Relationship Between Continuous Improvement Culture and Afterschool STEM Program Quality

Patrik Lundh, SRI International

Investigating How Museum Experiences Inform Youths’ STEM Career Awareness and Interest

Aaron Price, Museum of Science and Industry

Making Space for Story-Based Tinkering to Scaffold Early Informal Engineering Learning

Catherine Haden, Loyola University of Chicago; Tsivia Cohen, Chicago Children’s Museum; and David Uttal, Northwestern University

Practice-driven Research: Developing Constructivism-informed Tools for Supporting Learning in Informal Contexts

Danielle Harlow, University of California-Santa Barbara and Ron Skinner, Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara

Roads Taken: A Retrospective Study of Program Strategies and Long-term Impacts of Intensive, Multi-year, STEM Youth Programs

Deborah Wasserman, Franklin County Historical Society, and Keliann LaConte, Space Science Institute

What leads to better outcomes in informal STEM-based environmental education programs for youth?

Robert Powell, Clemson University


Co-funded by the NSF Division of Polar Programs

Polar Literacy: A model for youth engagement and learning

Jason Cervenec, Ohio State University and Janice McDonnell, Rutgers University–New Brunswick


Co-funded by AISL and other NSF Programs

Building the Capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Increase Competitiveness in DRL Programs

Ivory Toldson, Quality Education For Minorities Network

Building the Twenty-First Century Citizen Science Framework to Enable Scientific Discovery Across Disciplines

Lucy Fortson, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities; Sarah Benson-Amram, University of Wyoming; Laura Trouille, Adler Planetarium; Subhashini Sivagnanam, University of California–San Diego; and Gregory Newman, Colorado State University

Computer-Assisted Video Analysis Methods for Understanding Underrepresented Student Participation and Learning in Collaborative Learning Environments

Marios Pattichis, University of New Mexico

NRT: Citizen-Centered Smart Cities and Smart Living

Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University

Talking Black in America, Part II: Mini-Series and Public Education

Walter Wolfram, North Carolina State University