2019 NSF AISL PI Meeting (February 11-13)

It was with great pleasure that the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) hosted the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program Principal Investigator (PI) Meeting February 11-13, 2019, at the Westin Alexandria in Alexandria, VA. All current PIs of NSF AISL and Science Learning+ projects were invited to attend.

Meeting Program
Meeting Recap
<!– Posters –>


Participants were inspired by a talk by keynote speaker Dr. Na’ilah Nasir on Cultivating Learning Identities in the Context of Social Inequality. Dr. Nasir is the president of the Spencer Foundation, a Chicago-based foundation supporting education research.

Meeting Overview

Monday, February 11

Attendees heard from the NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) in a session on fiscal management of awards.  They also learned about current and upcoming funding opportunities from NSF Program Directors. These opportunities are within the NSF AISL program, the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), and beyond.

Download the slides.

Tuesday, February 12

As with past PI meetings, CAISE invited participating AISL PIs to organize and lead concurrent sessions on issues, opportunities, and challenges that arise in the process of designing, researching, and evaluating informal STEM learning and science communication experiences, across various settings and approaches.

There were 16 sessions on topics ranging from what equitable and asset-based models of STEM engagement look like to what diverse audiences are teaching us about particular strategies, technologies, and platforms for addressing their learning interests and needs. For many of the sessions, organizers provided the big takeaways and select resources shared from their session in the document below.

Download the slides.

Project Showcase

The Project Showcase was an opportunity for attendees to meet colleagues, share their work and challenges, and gain a sense of the richness of the NSF AISL portfolio. More than 200 projects were represented at the 2019 NSF AISL Program PI Meeting.

Rather than a typical poster session, this year we tried something new. First, we asked attendees to focus on a specific question or challenge they would most like to discuss with colleagues, rather than a more expansive presentation including their full set research questions, methodology, and findings to date.

<!–Several projects uploaded their posters to InformalScience.org—view them here. –>

Attendees also had the choice to bring an electronic representation of their project, which was more fitting for those who were creating media, websites, or apps.

And finally, in order to seed deeper conversations among participants, the showcase began with “Affinity Groups” of about 10 people, based on a mix of project attributes, such as audience, setting, and STEM topic, as well as the concurrent session topics. The groups spent a dedicated 30 minutes getting to know each other’s projects and challenges before dispersing into showcase rotations. 

List of Affinity Groups

​Broadening Participation in STEM; Institutional Development & Change; Children, Youth, & Teens; Making & Tinkering; Computational Thinking, Math, Engineering, & Computer Science; Media; Design of Exhibits & Experiences; Professional Development & Capacity-Building; Digitally Facilitated Learning, Interactive Media, & Gaming; Public Participation in Scientific Research & Citizen Science; Engaging Scientists & Broader Impacts; STEAM;  Environmental Education & Science in Natural Places; STEM Learning Ecosystems; Evaluation, Measurement, & Innovative Research