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News Release 18-105

NSF awards $50M in grants to improve STEM education

Awards focus on students and teachers in 24 US states and the US Virgin Islands

Students in front of a periodic table of elements using scientific equipment and technology.

FY2018 awards aim to result in research-informed and field-tested classroom products and outcomes.

November 15, 2018

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

With the 2018-2019 school year underway, K-12 students have new opportunities for learning. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers also have new prospects to sharpen their skills and innovate in their classrooms.

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program aims to help students and teachers accomplish all of the above. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, DRK-12 issued 59 new awards to institutions in 24 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands totaling more than $50 million. NSF program managers anticipate the awards will result in classroom products and outcomes that have been field-tested and informed by research to strengthen teaching, learning and assessment.

The DRK-12 program funds applied research and development activities that support teachers and students in enhancing their understanding and use of STEM content, practices and skills in the classroom. Included in FY 2018 are two Faculty Early Career Development Program awards given to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. In addition, the program issued one award to study the impact of hurricanes and school responses on students.

"We are delighted to support these education research and development efforts across the nation," said Evan Heit, division director for Research on Learning in NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate. "Advancing the DRK-12 program's work in all areas of STEM learning and teaching, in pre-K through grade12 settings, is a vital component of our goal to seek excellence in STEM education."

Below is a sample of DRK-12 projects NSF funded in FY 2018.

For the complete list of projects and their summaries, see NSF's award search database.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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