Informal Science Education Program

Target Dates for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—March 1; Full—June 1
Preliminary, No Later Than—August 1; Full—November 15
Telephone: 703-306-1616

Goals and Objectives

Informal Science Education (ISE) supports projects in which learning is voluntary and self-directed, life-long, and motivated mainly by intrinsic interests, curiosity, exploration, manipulation, fantasy, task completion, and social interaction. Informal learning can be linear or non-linear and often is self-paced and visual- or object-oriented. It provides an experiential base and motivation for further activity and learning. The outcomes of an informal learning experience in science, mathematics, and technology include a better understanding of concepts, topics, processes, and thinking in scientific and technical disciplines, as well as increased knowledge about career opportunities in these fields.

In order to produce significant positive changes, the ISE Program pursues the following goals:

The ISE Program especially encourages projects that are creative and innovative informal learning activities and reflect and apply recent research in SMT education; contribute to strengthening the infrastructure of informal science education through such activities as electronic networking, technical assistance, and professional development; and conduct research on the informal education process to determine the effectiveness of innovative techniques for motivating and informing the public about topics in SMT. Community based programs may want to incorporate new material into existing programs so as to increase the science, mathematics, and technology interests and literacy of their audiences.

Project Characteristics

ISE projects provide rich and stimulating opportunities outside formal classroom settings where individuals of all ages, interests, and backgrounds can increase their appreciation and understanding of science, mathematics, and their applications. Supported projects include, but are not limited to: television series and programs for youth or for the general public; films on science and mathematics topics; exhibits or educational programs at science and natural history museums, sciencetechnology centers, aquaria, nature centers, botanical gardens, arboreta, zoological parks, and libraries; and educational programs and activities at community and youth centers.

Most ISE projects are designed to reach large audiences and to have significant regional or national impact. The program encourages development of projects that address critical needs for informal science education in less populated regions of the country. When appropriate, projects are expected to use the relevant science and mathematics standards to help guide the content of the activities and to promote linkages with formal education. All projects are expected to disseminate effective designs or materials in order to maximize their impact. All ISE projects should also include plans for rigorous evaluation, based on comprehensive quantitative and qualitative information, in order to document program impact and demonstrate potential for dissemination and replication. ISE does not support local projects that reach relatively few people, nor does it support general operating expenses or capital development costs.

Areas of Special Interest

ISE will place special emphasis in the following areas:

Other Considerations

Cost-sharing. Expectations for cost-sharing depend on the scope and nature of the project. In most media projects, NSF may contribute up to one third of the total project cost. For museum and community/youth-based projects, NSF generally supports up to two-thirds of total project cost. The listed costshare amount is integral both to the review and award decision for the proposal and becomes a condition of any resulting award.

Evaluation: Competitive proposals submitted to the ISE Program will have a well-developed beginning-to-end evaluation plan. When appropriate, ISE projects will include three stages of evaluation commensurate with the nature and scope of the proposed project: front-end, formative, and summative. Applicants are reminded to provide adequate time at the end of a project to conduct summative evaluation. The proposal narrative should clearly detail the evaluation goals, methodologies, and indicate the individual or individuals responsible for conducting evaluations. The budget should clearly reflect the evaluation costs including the external evaluation and/or the in-house staff effort that will be given for evaluation work. There must be a letter of commitment from any external evaluator and this should include a summary of the planned work. It should be clear what the external evaluator is responsible for and to whom the evaluator reports.

Proposal Requirements

Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is required for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals. Information on submission of full proposals (including planning grants, conference grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER)) are contained in the Guidelines section, ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals.’’ The narrative should include results from prior NSF support, a project overview, goals and objectives, general project description, qualifications to conduct the project, anticipated results, as well as evaluation and dissemination plans. Substantive information essential to understanding the details of complex projects should be placed in supporting appendices with explicit reference in the narrative. Using the example of a television series, the narrative would outline the scope of the series, briefly describing the programs (outlines, treatments, or scripts would be included in an appendix); provide a general description of evaluation plans (detailed plans would be in an appendix); and describe major elements of outreach plans (detailed plans would be in an appendix). A copy of any ancillary material submitted, such as videocassettes, should be included with each copy of the proposal. While NSF does not require reviewers to read appendices, ISE reviewers are asked to read any materials explicitly referenced in the proposal narrative.

Information about Planning Grants, Conference Grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research can be found in ‘‘Special Categories of Full Proposals,’’ page 31.

ISE Supplements for Public Understanding of Research. ISE will fund as many as 30 supplements of up to $50,000 to NSF research directorate grants. These supplements are intended to inform the general public about the content, process, and relevance of state-of-the-art research. Interested PI’s with active research grants should contact their Program Officer in the research directorate for information about the requirements for these supplements and procedures for applying. Additional information can be found on the World Wide Web:, and in the special guidelines for the supplements (NSF 97-70.)

Parent Involvement in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Initiative

Target Dates for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—July 15; Full—October 15;
Telephone: 703-306-1616

Goals and Objectives

Parents, including individuals serving as parent surrogates (e.g., other relatives, foster parents, day-care providers), play a critical role in ensuring their children’s interest and achievement in science, mathematics, and technology. Well-informed parents have many opportunities to teach their children, reinforce their curiosity, and provide encouragement and support for learning. In addition, parents are instrumental in ensuring the maintenance of a quality education system that meets the needs of all children. In keeping with its mission to support the nation’s scientific and engineering infrastructure, NSF makes a major investment in pre-kindergarten to grade 12 (preK-12) education. A part of that investment supports projects that place a primary focus on: In support of these objectives, the ISE, IMD, and TE Programs will fund projects that are targeted on parents/surrogates and meet the overarching goals of these Programs. Projects are expected to develop innovative materials and strategies that will actively engage large numbers of parents in their children’s education, as well as in education reform. To maximize impact, all projects should yield effective products and models that can be disseminated and/or replicated in other locations. Ideally, the ultimate impact of projects should be national or regional.

Project Characteristics

Eligibility. Organizations with a scientific and/or educational mission are encouraged to submit proposals. These include community-based organizations that specifically provide family services, museums, libraries, media organizations, professional societies, school systems, colleges and universities, private foundations, publishers, and other public and private organizations whether for profit or not-for-profit.

Content. To be considered viable and to ensure that they will make a contribution to the field, projects should incorporate the following elements:

Duration. Projects up to five years in duration will be considered.

Funding. The estimated total amount to be committed annually by the ESIE Division for Parent Involvement Projects is $3 million, depending on availability of funds.

Cost-sharing. Cost-sharing is required for all projects, is a factor in evaluating proposals, and will be a condition of any resulting award. For broadcast media projects, NSF generally contributes one-third of the total project cost; for all other projects, NSF may contribute up to two-thirds of the total project cost. The level of cost-sharing must be shown in the proposal in enough detail to allow NSF and reviewers to determine its impact on the proposed project.

Special Review Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with established Foundation procedures and the new review criteria as described in the review section of this announcement, as well as the following specific criteria:

Plan. Is the project plan informed by sound research or evidence of promising practice in the area of parent involvement in education? Where appropriate, is the plan in alignment with, and does it draw upon, local and state education reform efforts?

Strategy for Recruiting and Involving Parents. Is there a realistic and potentially effective plan to reach out to parents and to involve them in a meaningful way in project activities. The NSF is especially interested in reaching parents who previously have not participated in or made a significant commitment to their children’s education or to science and mathematics education reform.

Impact. What difference will the project make to parents and other adults who wish to help their own and other children increase their involvement with, and enhance their understanding of, SMT? For those who wish to develop knowledge and skills to be proponents of high quality education at the school building, district, or other levels, what are the indicators that confirm they have attained these capabilities?

Scope and Cost-effectiveness. Does the project have the potential to reach a large number of parents at a reasonable cost per participant and have a regional or national impact? Does the project include a satisfactory plan for disseminating and sustaining the material and activities?

Preparation of Proposals

Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is required for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals. General requirements for submission of full proposals (including those for planning grants, conference grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER)) are included in the section, ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals.’’ The proposal narrative should include results from prior NSF support, project overview, goals and objectives, general project description, qualifications to conduct the project, anticipated results, as well as evaluation and dissemination plans.

Information about Planning Grants, Conference Grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research can be found in ‘‘Special Categories of Full Proposals,’’ page 35.

Instructional Materials 
Development Program

Target Dates for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—May 1; Full—August 15
Telephone: 703-306-1614

Goals and Objectives

The Instructional Materials Development (IMD) Program supports the development of instructional materials and assessment tools to improve science, mathematics, and technology (SMT) education for all students at all levels (pre-Kindergarten through grade 12). Projects range from the substantial revision of proven materials to the creation of entirely new ones; from the development of a single module for one grade level to the development of comprehensive curricula for several school years; from addressing a single topic to the integration of several disciplines; and, from the development of assessments embedded in instructional materials to the creation of items and assessment programs for use by districts and states. While IMD projects should focus on the development of student materials, they also should include related supplementary instructional guides for teachers, educational leaders, and parents to promote the adoption and implementation of the instructional materials. Materials designed primarily for the education of practicing teachers are supported by the Teacher Enhancement Program.

The IMD Program gives priority to projects that are national in scope and significance and that produce materials appropriate for use by all teachers and students. A broader cross section of students may pursue SMT education if the materials use real-world contexts and provide an understanding of the workplace. The IMD Program also will support a few innovative, high-risk projects that develop and test prototypes of instructional materials and learning technologies that apply the most current research on teaching and learning. Proposals for such high-risk projects must demonstrate promise for advancing the state-of-the-art in curriculum development and for testing the limits of instructional materials in promoting student understanding of science, mathematics, and technology.

The goal of the IMD Program is the development of highquality instructional materials to enhance the scientific, mathematical, and technological knowledge, and the thinking skills and problem solving abilities of all students, regardless of background, ability, or future educational plans. They should promote students’ positive attitudes toward SMT and positive perceptions of themselves as learners.

Toward achieving this goal, the IMD Program pursues the following specific objectives:

The proposal should describe clearly how the project will address these objectives when monitoring project performance and evaluating project success. The project evaluation should document changes in student learning; improvements in the performance and the participation in SMT of female and minority students; and modifications in instructional approaches effected by the new instructional materials. Project evaluation should produce data useful in marketing the materials and in answering the central question posed by schools: why should the school use scarce resources to purchase these materials?

Project Characteristics

The IMD Program expects that proposed materials will exhibit a coherent framework for the placement of content that is aligned with national standards; foster inquiry and design abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and communication at increasing levels of complexity; and focus at each grade level on a few appropriate and challenging topics that are informed by practicing scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and SMT educators. Projects also should be grounded in the most recent advances in teaching and learning and further the understanding of the connections between science, mathematics, and technology. Incorporation of instructional technologies should be considered when they add the potential to provide learning experiences that enhance student understanding and application of key disciplinary concepts. Strategies for assuring equity should be part of the development and implementation process, and projects should include plans to provide the support needed for teachers to implement the instructional materials successfully.

It is important that projects include methodologies and instruments to assess the impact of the instructional materials on students. Accompanying materials that instruct teachers on their use and implementation will help assure that assessment is regularly and appropriately conducted.

Areas of Special Interest

The IMD Program will place special emphasis in the following areas:

Proposal Requirements

Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is required for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full proposals. For information on requirements for proposal submission, see section, ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31. Major sections of the proposal are as follows:

Proposal narrative. The proposal narrative should present the following information that determines whether or not a grant will be awarded:

Final reports/materials submission. Two complete sets of materials are to be submitted to IMD along with the final report. When they become available, a final published copy must be submitted to the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. At any time, IMD staff may request interim drafts of materials for review.

Information about Planning Grants, Conference Grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research can be found in ‘‘Special Categories of Full Proposals,’’ page 35.

Implementation and
Dissemination Projects

Target Dates for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—May 1; Full—August 15
Telephone: 703-306-1614

Goals and Objectives

Science and mathematics education reform requires classroom implementation of high-quality, standards-based instructional materials, together with a comprehensive program of professional development for teachers and the alignment of school district policy, practice, and resources. The IMD and TE Programs seek to establish implementation sites that will provide information and technical assistance to decision-makers who are responsible for selecting materials and ensuring their implementation in those districts that have decided to implement NSF-supported exemplary materials. These sites should increase awareness of alternatives; identify strategies for selection of materials that are appropriate for their needs; and provide the technical assistance necessary for broad-scale implementation.

Projects should be national or multi-state in scope and must provide multiple curriculum offerings. The site should be defined in terms of: 1) content areas (i.e., science, mathematics, technology); 2) grade levels (i.e., elementary, middle, secondary); and, 3) instructional materials to be supported. Sites must have the capability of assisting schools/districts with needs assessments that enable the selection of appropriate materials. Depending on its focus, a site would provide some or all of the following:

Sites are expected to provide some of the above services directly, but serve only as a clearinghouse for others. Project partners should include local and state education agencies, institutions of higher education, publishers, and/or other organizations that can demonstrate a record of educational excellence and leadership in curriculum implementation and related teacher enhancement, as well as knowledge of school district policy and practice that affects curriculum adoption and implementation. Sites are expected to obtain a significant part of their funding through cost-sharing supplied by publishers of the instructional materials, through school districts served by the site, and other appropriate organizations. Proposals should include plans for development of funding sources sufficient to sustain the project beyond the expiration of the NSF grant.

Eligible Institutions and Departments. Organizations with a science and/or mathematics education mission are eligible to submit proposals. These include: colleges and universities, state education agencies, professional societies, private foundations, private industry, publishers, and other public and private organizations whether for profit or not-for-profit. Proposers are strongly encouraged to build meaningful partnerships.

Funding and Duration. Project duration is expected to be from three-to-five years, with an award amount not to exceed $1.4 million annually. The maximum total request of any one project may not exceed $6 million. Costs of participating in site activities are generally expected to be borne by the districts or agencies served. In cases where costs are to be borne by the project, proposals must provide a rationale for the necessity of such support.

Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with established procedures, the two new merit review criteria described in ‘‘Review Criteria’’ (page 37), and the following special criteria:

Proposal Requirements

Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is required for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals. For information on submission of full proposals, see ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals’’ in these Guidelines. Full proposals (including those for planning grants) must strictly adhere to the page limitation and formatting requirements. Appendices may be used to provide information relevant to the project. Appendix material should be clearly referenced in the proposal. Please note that reviewers are not required to read appendices.

Assessment Projects

Target Dates for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—May 1; Full—August 15
Telephone: 703-306-614

Goals and Objectives

Accurate assessment of student learning is a critical component in judging the effects of education reforms. Ultimately, as a result of new instructional materials, new partnerships, and changes in teacher enhancement, students should improve their learning in mathematics and science. For example, all IMD projects must now include attention to student learning outcomes as part of the development process. As new materials are incorporated into district reform strategies, it is important that the assessments be compatible with them. Assessment projects should be national or multi-state in scope.

Therefore, NSF’s IMD Program encourages the development and implementation of various levels of new directions in the assessment of student learning in mathematics and science. Projects of interest include:

[NOTE: Projects that focus on assessment as a strategy for professional development should be submitted through the TE Program.]

Eligible Institutions and Departments. Organizations with a science and/or mathematics education mission are eligible to submit proposals. These include colleges and universities, state education agencies, professional societies, private foundations, private industry, publishers, and other public and private organizations whether for profit or not-for-profit. Proposers are strongly encouraged to build meaningful partnerships.

Funding and Duration. Project duration is expected to be from two-to-five years, with an award amount not to exceed $1.4 million annually. The maximum total request of any project may not exceed $6 million. Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with established procedures. The two general NSF criteria and additional criteria pertinent to proposals to the ESIE Division are described in ‘‘Review Criteria’’ (page 37).

Proposal Requirements

Preliminary Proposals. General requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals. For information on submission of full proposals, see ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals’’ in these Guidelines. Full proposals (including those for planning grants) must strictly adhere to the page limitation and formatting requirements. Appendices may be used to provide information relevant to the project. Appendix material should be clearly referenced in the proposal. Please note that reviewers are not required to read appendices.

Teacher Enhancement Program

Target Date for Proposals
Preliminary, No Later Than—April 1; Full—August 25
Telephone: 703-306-1613

Goals and Objectives

The Teacher Enhancement (TE) Program supports professional development projects to broaden and deepen the content and pedagogical knowledge of teachers. Projects typically involve administrators and others who play significant roles in providing quality science, mathematics, and technology (SMT) education to promote supportive school organizations and cultures, enabling teachers to engage all students in rich and challenging learning environments.

The TE Program encourages the following major categories of proposals: 1) local systemic change for SMT education, grades K-12; 2) educational leadership projects; 3) teacher and student development through research experiences; 4) replication and scale-up; 5) professional development materials; and, 6) professional support for the teaching workforce. Proposals are especially encouraged that target greatest need (e.g., geographic areas with high percentages of underrepresented and underserved populations—urban, rural, and resource-poor school districts). It should be noted that the TE Program requires that professional development be aligned with the curriculum and instructional materials used in participating schools and that the instructional materials to be implemented are of high quality and aligned with national standards. TE does not support the development of curriculum or instructional materials for students.


To improve the science, mathematics, and technology education program in schools, TE pursues the following goals:

Areas of Special Interest

TE will place special emphasis in the following areas:

Project Characteristics

All TE projects should address well-defined needs; deliver professional development that incorporates state and national standards for content, instruction, and assessment in science and mathematics education; and recognize the critical role of teachers in promoting student competence, interest, and enthusiasm for study in these fields. The following design characteristics are considered essential for all TE projects: 1. Local Systemic Change

Local Systemic Change (LSC) projects support school systems and their partners in reforming the delivery of science and/or mathematics education, grades K-12. Such projects are expected to initiate systemic efforts that will make significant progress in implementing recognized standards for content, teaching, and assessment.

The LSC projects represent a shift in focus from professional development of individual teachers to that of all teachers within an entire school organization. Projects should result in the establishment of professional communities that empower teachers to change practice and to reflect on their own teaching and learning. In these projects, new beliefs, skills, and behaviors are learned and explored within a supportive school culture, which is itself engaged in renewal.

LSC Project Characteristics.

The core evaluation calls for collection of both qualitative and quantitative data and requires roughly 50 days of staff time, depending on the number of teachers and schools participating in the project.² Each project must designate a lead evaluator to serve as liaison with the NSF contractor and to oversee data collection. Core evaluation activities may be carried out by others (e.g., consultants and/or district employees) with evaluation expertise. Projects should supplement the core evaluation activity by collecting site-specific data. NSF Program Officers should be contacted for updated information on the NSF core evaluation activity.

²The standardized evaluation is designed to assess the impact of the project on classroom practice and will address such issues as: 1) the overall quality of professional development activities; 2) the extent of teacher involvement in the LSC activities; 3) the impact of the LSC on curriculum, instruction, and assessment; 4) the likelihood that the proposed professional development system will be sustained; and, 5) the level of support for teaching.

Receipt of Continuing Grant Increments—No continuing grant increments will be made for LSC projects unless the PI remains current with requirements of the core evaluation.

LSC Special Proposal Review Criteria. The reform strategy employed in LSC projects should be aligned with nationally recognized content, teaching, and assessment standards for science and mathematics education, as well as with existing state frameworks, as appropriate. Successful projects must also align policy and practice. Proposals will be reviewed using the new merit review criteria, described on pages of this announcement (NSF 98-2), as well as the following specific criteria:

2. Educational Leadership Projects

Through leadership projects, participants obtain a thorough background in appropriate content and pedagogical knowledge, knowledge of quality curriculum materials and educational technologies, knowledge of the process of educational change, and knowledge and skills of leadership. Where appropriate, participants also receive follow-up support to implement classroom improvements and to conduct leadership and/or staff development activities. Typical leadership projects exceed the equivalent of four-to-six weeks in duration. They may involve multiple-year work through summer institutes and/or academic year programs. Projects must include adequate time for indepth study, reflection, and guided practice and should model effective approaches to curriculum, teaching, and assessment.

Categories of Projects. Leadership opportunities will be provided to: 1) build a core of college and university faculty who can provide professional development opportunities to those who will be staff developers and leaders of school reform on a regional basis, 2) prepare teachers and other educators to serve as members of teams that provide professional development for SMT teachers and to make a broad contribution to the infrastructure that supports science and/or mathematics educational reform improvement, and, 3) prepare teachers to serve as school or district mentors and/or change agents responsible for supporting program improvement. The three categories are:

  1. National Capacity Building: These projects support the development of national leaders and professional developers for K-12 science and mathematics, drawn from university and college faculty with disciplinary and/or education expertise in these fields, well-prepared supervisors of these fields in school districts or at state levels, and teachers of science and mathematics with national experience. Those selected as participants will be expected to have strong disciplinary expertise. Participants will be expected to engage in an intensive program that develops the expertise and skills needed to: 1) plan and implement professional development for K-12 science and mathematics teachers; 2) implement exemplary instructional materials in K-12 science and mathematics; 3) provide advice and technical assistance to districts on the important components of school-wide reform in mathematics and science and resources needed; and 4) be effective communicators on behalf of science/mathematics reform. Projects should provide an intensive experience lasting between one and two years. Projects could, for example, offer a sabbatical experience on a university campus and incorporate an internship component emphasizing professional development and the implementation of exemplary instructional materials. To adequately prepare such national leaders and providers of professional development, there is particular interest in supporting projects housed at institutions of higher education that offer opportunities for graduate degree credit and appropriate internships. Eligibility: colleges and universities
  2. Regional/District Capacity Building: These projects create staff developers who can become part of the infrastructure for science and mathematics education reform. Such individuals should possess the necessary knowledge and skills to engage in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of professional development activities that support such education reform. Projects should provide participants with opportunities to develop knowledge of advanced disciplinary content and related pedagogy, leadership development, adult learning, program development, supervision, and the process of educational change. Projects should also provide follow-up support to participants as they implement staff development activities. Participants are expected to be master teachers (grades K-12), district leaders, college faculty, and/or staff developers in education, mathematics, science or technology.
  3. Teacher Leaders: These projects are intended to develop master teachers and/or intellectual leaders who have the preparation in content, curriculum, and assessment necessary to actively support school program improvement. Participants should both learn and practice the skills necessary to facilitate change as they implement science and mathematics improvements. Projects should target teachers at the middle- and high-school levels. As part of the recruitment and selection process, participating schools must commit to sanctioning and supporting the participating teachers as school leaders in science and mathematics education reform. It is anticipated that projects with the potential for greatest impact would draw participants from districts or a consortium of schools. In addition to teachers, leadership teams may also include building and district administrators, and other appropriate support personnel. NSF limits its support for projects in this area to an average cost of $6,000 per teacher. Generally, each participant’s school or school district is expected to provide sufficient time and resources to enable the participant to apply the leadership knowledge and skills gained from the project to support reform of mathematics and/or science education.
3. Teacher and Student Development Through Research Experience Projects

The integration of research and education is a powerful paradigm for SMT education. Bringing the excitement of scientific discovery to teachers and students by providing them with the opportunity to work beside practicing scientific and technical personnel, such projects result in personal growth and the development of research activities that can be transported back to classrooms.

Categories of Projects. TE will support projects that involve teachers where research is a means of professional development and projects that involve teachers and students in research. Categories of projects include:

  1. Research Experiences for Teachers Projects—Teachers gain insight into scientific and technological processes when given the opportunity to work beside practicing scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists in a research-rich environment. These opportunities refresh and deepen the teachers’ understanding of SMT concepts and scientific processes.
  2. Characteristics of Research Experiences for Teachers Projects

    Eligibility. Higher education institutions, and advanced federal and industrial research and development (R&D) facilities may submit proposals individually and/or in collaboration. Selected project sites should provide participants with intellectually stimulating R&D experiences.

    Staff. Senior staff (e.g., those with major responsibility for teacher selection, supervision of research and pedagogical activities) should be college or university faculty; active researchers in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology employed in academia, industry, or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs); educators in these disciplines; or education researchers. While the PI must have a major role in the project and provide intellectual leadership, a CoPI may serve as liaison with NSF for purposes of administering the project. Staffing levels must allow for substantive one-on-one or small group interactions with participants. [NOTE: Any proposals under this category that originate from federal agencies and FFRDCs may not include costs related to Civil Service Salaries for federal scientists and engineers.]

    Recruitment. Participants must be recruited from among teachers of science, mathematics, and/or technology at the middle- or secondary-school level whose background and teaching assignments are matched with the project’s research focus. Proposals must detail recruitment, selection, and placement plans, especially as they relate to involvement of women, minorities, the physically disabled, and teachers from resourcepoor school districts. Lack of financial resources should not prevent participation of any eligible teacher, and proposals must include a plan for providing necessary support (e.g., travel, room, and board) for those with limited resources. While not essential to project design, consideration should be given to successive, multi-year participation by teachers. A clear rationale for such a project design should be provided.

    Duration. Projects are expected to last from three-tofive years.

    Activities. Participants must engage in meaningful R&D summer activities for a minimum of six weeks that are designed to broaden and deepen scientific and technological knowledge. Activities must clearly relate to well-articulated goals and objectives and include mechanisms for translating research experiences to the classroom (e.g., development of appropriate pedagogical techniques, laboratory experiments) and ensuring the accuracy, effectiveness, and ease of transportability of any laboratory activities and related materials to the school environment. Proposals should clearly describe provisions for meaningful academic-year follow-up and continued dialogue among participants.

    Evaluation. Proposals should clearly describe formative and summative evaluation plans. Formative evaluation should provide a strategy for strengthening the project through continual feedback from participants, staff, and others. Summative evaluation should include data on the project’s success in enhancing participants’ disciplinary knowledge, instructional skills, classroom practice, and attitude toward science and technology, as well as a list of participants by name, address, and relevant demographic characteristics. Summative evaluation results must not be purely anecdotal in nature.

    Budget. Proposals may request no more than $400,000 per year. NSF funds may be applied, in part, to supplement participant salaries, but the majority should be used to support translation of research experiences to the classroom, follow-up, and project evaluation.

    Cost-sharing/Co-Funding. Participating organizations are expected to provide substantial cost-sharing. Only items allowable under the applicable cost principles, if charged to the project, can be included as costsharing. For example, cost-sharing may take the form of participant salaries; staff release time to work with teachers as mentors during project and follow-up activities; donation of relevant materials, supplies, and equipment for implementing related classroom activities in participants’ schools; and room and board for participants. For further information on cost-sharing see section, ‘‘reparation and Submission of Full Proposals.’’

    Partners. Federal laboratories or facilities are expected to join NSF as full partners in co-funding the project. Both cost-sharing and co-funding commitments will be considered in proposal evaluation and will be a condition of any resulting award. The proposal must clearly identify the amount and source of cost-sharing and co-funding to allow NSF to determine its impact on the proposed project.

    —Institutionalization. NSF seeks to support development of effective models that will be institutionalized by the submitting organization over time. Plans for ensuring continuation of the project after NSF support ceases must be clearly described in the proposal.

  3. Research Experiences for Teachers and Students Projects—TE anticipates supporting projects, targeted at the middle and secondary levels (grades 7-12), that demonstrate a range of innovative and cost-effective approaches for engaging teachers and students in meaningful SMT research experiences. Participating teacher/student teams (generally from the same school) are expected to work in small groups with researchers and technologists in settings that range from research laboratories to field sites. Research experiences should lead to in-depth mastery of scientific and mathematical concepts and to the development of measurement and analytic skills. Teacher/student teams, working with researchers during the summer and in subsequent follow-up activities, are expected to translate the research investigations into meaningful classroom experiences. Two types of research participation projects are appropriate for funding consideration:
    1. Research Apprenticeships for Teacher/Student Teams—Teachers and students participate directly in a research project conducted by scientists, mathematicians, and/or technologists. Apprenticeships would typically involve working at the research site for a period of at least four-to-six weeks during the summer and include follow-up activities during the school year.
    2. Research, Large-scale Data Collection, and Analysis for Teachers and Students—Certain research projects lend themselves to large-scale data collection and/or implementation of research experiences that can be integrated into school curricula. TE will support projects that forge partnerships between practicing researchers and teacher/student participants through four-to-six week summer (or equivalent, intensive academic year) experiences and follow-up activities, with the expectation that participants transport these research activities back to whole schools or classrooms. School-based activities should include gathering, analyzing, and communicating data derived from natural phenomena, museums, or on-line databases. Proposals must identify the focus of study, hypotheses and issues, data collection protocols, and data analysis techniques. Projects should build a research community, bringing together teams of teachers and students to report research findings and/or use electronic communications to continue the dialogue among researcher, teacher, and students in disparate geographic locations.
Unlike the ‘‘Research Experiences for Teachers Projects’’ described in section 3. a, projects that involve teachers and students are expected to be two-to-three years in duration with a maximum annual funding level of $250,000. In addition to the criteria described above, proposals should describe: 1) recruitment strategies for selection of student and teacher participants (at a ratio not to exceed 3:1); 2) selection procedures to ensure participation of high-ability and/or high-potential students in summer research activities; 3) relevance of the planned research to school curricula and demonstrated commitments by school administrators to provide resources for implementing related instructional classroom activities; 4) content of scientific ethics and career awareness sessions; 5) an evaluation strategy for demonstrating the value-added to the SMT education of teachers and students and for identifying factors that lead to the project’s effectiveness; and, 6) plans for ensuring continuation of the project after NSF support ceases.

4. Replication and Scale-up

The TE Program seeks to broaden its impact by capitalizing on its investment in successful models for in-service training that are consistent with current guidelines. The program especially seeks to support cost-effective efforts to expand effective projects to new locations or for new target populations. In both cases, evidence must be provided to demonstrate: 1) the success of the previous project in improving both the classroom instruction of participating teachers and the achievement of their students (such evidence must not be purely anecdotal in nature) and 2) the potential of the design for meeting the needs of a new or expanded environment, including documentation of those factors that have been critical to its success. A critical aspect of replication and scale-up projects is that they achieve a major reduction in the cost-per-teacher participating in the project. The proposed project should achieve a cost-effectiveness far exceeding that achieved by the prototype project. In addition, the proposed project must incorporate assurances that necessary school, district, and community support has been secured for project implementation and for sustaining its impact after NSF support terminates.

5. Professional Development Materials

Major reform efforts in SMT education have increased the need for professional development materials that enhance teachers’ understanding, adoption, and implementation of effective, standards-based instruction that uses state-of-the-art student materials, assessment strategies, and educational technologies. The TE Program, therefore, supports the development of curricula and training materials for pre-K-12 teachers and instructional leaders of SMT.

Projects may range from the creation of new teacher enhancement materials/curricula to the upgrading of existing ones that respond to innovations in student curricula and instruction; from the development of comprehensive teacher enhancement curricula to a few modules on focused content or instructional topics; from a focus on a single topic to the integration of several disciplines; and from supporting specific comprehensive materials to providing generic teacher enhancement for targeted SMT content and pedagogy.

Project Characteristics. Proposed professional development materials/curricula are expected to be developed by experts in the fields of science, mathematics, and technology education and should exhibit the following design characteristics:

6. Technology in Support of Professinal Development

To meet national standards for content, teaching, and assessment in science and mathematics education, teachers must continue to learn throughout their careers not only by participating in formal education, but also by engaging in ongoing interactions with their peers, teacher educators, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technologists, the informal science community, and the private sector. Teachers need support in their efforts to build and sustain a community of colleagues with shared interests and require easy access to information resources regardless of their location. The TE Program will support a small number of projects that provide such opportunities through the use of educational technologies.

Educational technologies (e.g., electronic mail, bulletin boards, homepages, electronic conferencing) are becoming commonplace and essential to projects whose effectiveness depends on connecting participants with common interests, resources, or needs. TE seeks to support projects that find innovative ways to utilize educational technologies in providing teachers with the capabilities and support needed to go beyond the typical in-service course. Such projects should work 1) to create a culture of learning where teachers can share ideas, draw freely on the expertise of their colleagues, and gain access to current information, thinking, and discussions about teaching practice and content; 2) to help teachers individualize instruction through the use of modeling and other pedagogical strategies that are made available through advances in technology; and 3) to extend opportunities and resources to isolated schools and teachers through telecommunications.

Of particular interest are projects that significantly reduce cost, yet increase the access to, and the variety of, in-service experiences available through the use of electronic networking, distance learning, and two-way video technologies. Such projects should support teachers in their continual learning and involvement in SMT while preparing them to use technology in their own instruction.

TE will support a few projects that: 1) extend electronic networking, information access, and two-way communications to isolated communities in order to support cooperation, collegiality, and the development of a professional community of SMT educators; 2) develop and implement new technologies that provide in-service and ongoing support for the dissemination and adoption of IMD projects; and, 3) extend the model of in-service training allowing teachers to contribute to their field or adopt roles where they have a lifelong involvement in their discipline.

Special Considerations for the TE Program

Budget Items Affecting Participants. The policies outlined below apply to allowable participant expenses within a project. No indirect costs can be applied against these budget categories. Equipment Purchase. In general, funds should not be requested to purchase equipment. Organizations conducting instructional activities are expected to provide laboratory, computing, and other equipment for use by staff and participants. The purchase and maintenance of equipment for use by participants and their students in schools are the responsibility of state and local agencies.

Cost-Sharing. TE projects require cost-sharing (see special considerations for Local Systemic Change (LSC) and ‘‘Education through Research Experience’’ projects). Proposed cost-sharing is considered in evaluating proposals and will be a condition of any resulting award. Typical cost-sharing amounts for most TE projects are 20-30 percent of the NSF award amount and more than 50 percent for LSC projects. Proposals must document the total estimated amount of cost-share, including the expected contribution made from various sources.

Annual Reports. Annual reports are required for all multiyear awards. In addition to the requirements for annual reports described in the section, Announcement and Administration of Awards’’ page 84, TE annual reports must provide participant information, as well as an updated TE data form. Reports must include: findings from evaluation activities, a summary of the professional development activities, and the impact of the project on classroom instruction. A listing and explanation for any significant changes in the plan for the upcoming year, including any changes in the amount of PI and CoPI time devoted to the project is also required. To ensure uniform reporting, LSC projects will be provided a reporting framework; continuation of funding also depends on submission of relevant evaluation data for the mandatory standardized evaluation. PI’s will receive complete instructions after an award has been made.

Final Project Reports. Submission of a final report (98A) is required of all projects; see later section on ‘‘Announcement and Administration of Awards.’’ As appropriate, all TE projects require submission of the following:

Projects that produce professional development materials for teachers are required to submit five copies of all materials with their final report.

Proposal Requirements

Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is required for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals. For further information, see section, ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals.’’ Full proposals must strictly adhere to the page limitation and formatting requirements, but appendices may be used to provide information relevant to the project. Appendix material should be referenced clearly in the proposal. Please note that reviewers are not required to read appendices. TE may request set(s) of instructional materials for panel review.

Information about Planning Grants, Conference Grants, and Small Grants for Exploratory Research can be found in ‘‘Special Categories of Full Proposals,’’ page 35.

Advanced Technological Education

Target Date for Proposals
Preliminary,—April 15; Full—October 15
Telephone: 703-306-1620/1668

General Program Description

Purpose. Ensuring internationally competitive industrial and other business enterprises, protection of the environment, effective development and use of new technologies, and other high technology activities requires well-educated science and engineering technicians. It has become increasingly apparent that the quality of this high-technology workforce depends on strong and innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at associate degree granting institutions. Such education should creatively serve first-time students, returning students, and workers seeking new career opportunities or new skills in a changing economy. To be effective, technological education programs require partnerships among two- and four-year colleges, universities, secondary schools, business, government, and industry.

The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program promotes improvement in technician education delivered at the undergraduate and secondary school levels. The program expects all projects to include major involvement of two-year colleges. Focused on both national and regional levels, it supports curriculum development and program improvement for technicians being educated for the high performance workplace of advanced technologies. Curriculum development encompasses the design and implementation of new curricula, courses, laboratories, and instructional materials. Program improvement encompasses faculty and teacher development, student academic support, and formal cooperative arrangements among institutions and other partners. ATE centers and projects result in major improvements in advanced technological education, serve as models for other institutions, assure that students acquire strong backgrounds in mathematics and science, and yield nationally-usable educational products. All projects must have a vision for technician education which is used to guide project development.

The program is managed jointly by the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) and the Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education (ESIE).

Eligibility. Requirements under the ATE Program are as follows:

Areas of Special Interest

The ATE Program is interested in increasing the number of proposals that place special emphasis in the following areas:

Categories of ATE Projects

ATE expects to support the following three categories of projects:
  1. projects which focus on one or more aspects of advanced technological education, i.e., curriculum or instructional materials development, faculty or teacher preparation and enhancement, technical experiences for students including internships and cooperative education, or laboratory development;
  2. up to three new Centers of Excellence in Advanced Technological Education that provide systems-based approaches to technological education (Note: the number and distribution of Centers and projects depends on availability of funds and quality of proposals received); and,
  3. conferences, workshops, symposia, design and planning projects, studies, and other special projects that will lead to better understanding and promotion of issues in advanced technological education.
1. Projects in Advanced Technological Education

Project Development. ATE focuses on improving educational opportunities for potential science and engineering technicians. Centers are expected to be comprehensive in scope. Projects may focus more narrowly on curriculum or instructional materials development, faculty or teacher enhancement, faculty or teacher preparation, technical and research experiences for students and faculty, including internships and cooperative education, or laboratory development. They should, nonetheless, be placed within the context of a more comprehensive program. Because of the nature of ATE Programs, where appropriate, projects should build on alliances of associate degree granting institutions with four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, business, industry, and government. Students and parents must also be made aware of the opportunities and rewards for careers as technicians and the educational requirements necessary to pursue such careers. Projects that cut across the boundaries listed below are especially encouraged.

  1. Curriculum and Instructional Materials Projects. ATE supports model projects that demonstrate a vision to improve the quality of courses and curricula in the basic mathematics, science, and engineering core underlying programs in advanced technological education, as well as more specialized science and engineering technology courses. Its activities affect the learning environment, content, and experience of instruction. Technological education is field dependent and driven by applications. There should be a match between occupational requirements and what students are taught. The education component should provide understanding to make the technician more insightful about the work environment and more flexible about receiving additional training which may be job and/or skill related.
  2. ATE seeks projects that envision major changes in technician education and that result in products such as textbooks, laboratory experiments and manuals, software, videos, CDROMs, and other educational products. Products are expected to be widely disseminated through publishers, seminars, workshops, electronic networks, and other appropriate means including conference presentations and journal articles. Projects may range from substantial revision of existing materials to creation of entirely new ones; from a few modules at a single instructional level to comprehensive curricula for multiple years; and from a single subject to the integration of several disciplines. Projects must produce major changes and significant improvement beyond the recipient institution and produce materials used nationally. Curriculum projects are especially sought that integrate mathematics, science, and technology; are developed by teams of educators, scientists, and industry participants; and implement the national mathematics, science, and industry standards in a technological context. Curriculum projects that prepare future teachers and faculty for advanced technological programs are also encouraged.

    A variety of projects is encouraged. Requests normally range from $50,000 to $500,000 per year and for one to three years duration depending on complexity.

  3. Teacher and Faculty Development Projects. Faculty and teachers are key elements in advanced technological education. It is critical that they have a sound disciplinary background with knowledge of state-of-the-art developments and techniques in their fields; be intellectually vigorous and excited about their disciplines; employ modern teaching practices; and regard teaching as an important and rewarding activity. To this end, ATE seeks to enhance both the disciplinary capabilities and teaching skills of faculty and teachers, as well as to provide support to maintain their currency and vitality.
  4. Successful projects emphasize content, pedagogy, development and exercise of leadership skills, and opportunities for continuing professional growth. Faculty and teachers also need to be familiar with new instrumentation and the opportunity to evaluate its suitability for instructional use. They need opportunities to synthesize knowledge that cuts across their own and other disciplines. Finally, they also need opportunities to interact intensively with experts in the field and with colleagues who are practicing scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians, both during the course of the project, and in a continuing way after the project.

    Typical projects for teacher and faculty enhancement include conferences, seminars, short courses, industrial internships, institutes, workshops, or a series of such activities. Sessions may vary in length from a few days to several weeks. It is expected that activities would usually be conducted in the summer with follow-up activities during the academic year. To affect long-term change, teacher and faculty enhancement projects normally span at least two academic years.

    In the area of teacher enhancement at the secondary level, ATE will fund four categories of projects described for the TE Program earlier in these Guidelines, i.e., Educational Leadership, Teacher and Student Development through Research Experiences, Professional Development Materials, and Technology in Support of Professional Development. Note Educational Leadership projects should offer at least three weeks of intensive instruction each summer with intensive academic year follow-up. Projects focused on teachers should be congruent with the guidelines for the TE Program described elsewhere in this Announcement and provide major support for classroom and school change, for implementing advanced technological education curricula, as well as for improving the integration of mathematics and science in support of technological education. Projects in which twoyear college faculty work with four-year college or university faculty and/or secondary school teachers are encouraged, as are those which bring together faculty and teachers from different disciplines.

    Instructional materials projects to prepare pre-service teachers and faculty for careers in technological education are also sought. Programs which are collaborations between two-year colleges and four-year colleges and universities are particularly desirable. Involvement of science, mathematics, engineering, technology, and education faculty and secondary school teachers in curriculum design and program implementation is encouraged.

    Teacher and faculty preparation and enhancement projects normally range from $25,000 to $500,000 per year, with a duration of one-to-three years depending on the complexity and length of the activities, the number of teachers and faculty involved, and the follow-up support provided.

  5. Technical Experiences for Students and Faculty. Technical experiences should provide high-potential students and faculty from secondary schools or two-year colleges with a broad perspective of technical fields. They are introduced to an intellectually stimulating environment centered on genuine technical experiences both in the classroom and in a work or community environment. Participants are expected to work in small groups interacting on a regular basis with scientists, engineers, and technicians and with peers who have an interest and curiosity similar to their own. Studentfaculty teams are particularly encouraged to participate in technical experiences. Successful projects provide opportunities to formulate problems and questions, design appropriate models, use technological tools, and perform tasks related to their field. In addition, the student-faculty teams are expected to translate the summer and follow-up activities into meaningful classroom experiences that introduce other students to the role of technicians in the workplace.
  6. Technical experiences include, but are not limited to, industrial internships and cooperative experiences. It is expected that the industry partners will provide major support for internships and cooperative activities. Through participation in technical experiences, students and faculty will:

    Projects may consist of any combination of activities involving instruction, problem solving, research, design and creation of products. Proposers should provide a balance of classroom, laboratory, industrial, and field experiences. While some activities may be individualized, project activities should stress group interactions that foster collaborations among peers and provide substantive feedback.

    Proposals should describe recruitment strategies; criteria for selection of participants; relevance of the planned experiences to curricula or programs; commitments by schools, colleges, or industries to provide resources for implementing project activities; content of sessions about ethics in the workplace and career awareness; and strategies for evaluating the value added to the education of students and faculty.

    Technical Experience projects will normally range from $50,000 to $250,000 per year with a duration of one to three years. Internships should receive substantial cost sharing.

  7. Laboratory Development Projects. Laboratory or field experiences with suitable modern equipment are crucial elements of advanced technological education, especially at the two-year college level. ATE will support projects to develop innovative methods for using laboratory exercises that improve student understanding of basic principles and for using modern instrumentation, new technologies, or applications of instruments that extend the instructional capability of the equipment. ATE also encourages establishment of equipment-sharing through consortia or Centers.
  8. Because ATE focuses on improving the quality of technological education through laboratory improvement, projects based primarily on financial need or replacement of equipment at the same level of capability are not appropriate.

    Equipment funds must be matched by non-federal dollars equal to, or greater than, funds requested from NSF. The maximum NSF request for equipment for the life of the project is normally $100,000 or 10 percent of the total NSF budget request, whichever is larger.

2. National/Regional Centers of Excellence for Advanced Technological Education

National/Regional Centers of Excellence are comprehensive projects that serve as models and clearinghouses for the benefit of both colleges and secondary schools. A Center must have a well-formulated underlying philosophy; a vision for technological education for the future; and a well-defined plan to reach that vision. Model curricula, instructional materials, and teaching methods will be developed at and through these Centers and then be disseminated through publishers, seminars, workshops, publications, electronic networks, and other appropriate means. Centers may vary in size, complexity, disciplinary coverage, and extent of the region served. It is expected that Centers will involve active participation in the educational process by both academia and the private and public sectors served by the educational system. Centers are cooperative efforts among two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, industry, business, and government and must involve two-year colleges in leadership roles.

Sources of Support. Center proposals should involve a three-pronged alliance of support from:

Project Elements. It is anticipated that the proposal for a Center will include, but not be limited to, most of the following elements: Funding and Duration of Centers. National/Regional Centers of Excellence for Advanced Technological Education are expected to be comprehensive projects involving curriculum development and program improvement as described above. NSF anticipates making up to three new awards for Centers annually depending on availability of funds. Awards will be made for up to $1 million per year for a duration of three years, with possible extension to up to 6 years.

3. Workshops, Conferences, Seminars, Studies and Other Special Projects

ATE expects to support a few special projects such as conferences, symposia, studies, design and planning projects, and other activities that will lead to a better understanding of issues in advanced technological education.

Requests should normally be made at least nine months in advance of the date of the scheduled activity. Individuals or groups wishing to submit such a request should contact an ATE Program Officer in DUE at (703) 306-1668 or in ESIE at (703) 306-1620, as appropriate, before preparing a two- to three-page preliminary proposal. Following an initial discussion, a preliminary proposal which includes a project outline, description of personnel involved, and approximate budget should be sent to the appropriate ATE Program Officer. NSF staff will review these preliminary proposals and encourage selected formal proposals.

Formal proposals for such activities should include: 1) a summary indicating the objectives of the project; 2) a statement of the need; 3) names and qualifications of key personnel organizing and leading the activity including vitae of Principal Investigators; 4) lists of participants to be invited or other persons to be involved in the project; 5) information on probable dates of workshops or meetings or duration of other type projects; 6) a budget which details the requested NSF contribution and support requested or available from other sources; 7) products to be disseminated; and 8) evaluation of impact of activity. Because proceedings are normally published, requests for support can also include publication costs.

Preliminary proposals and formal proposals for these special projects should be sent directly to an ATE Program Officer at the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education—Room 835, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230.


Preliminary Proposals. A preliminary proposal is strongly recommended for submission of a full proposal. Requirements for preliminary proposal submission are included in ‘‘Preparation and Submission of Proposals,’’ page 31.

Full Proposals for Centers and Projects. General information on proposal preparation is included in the section, ‘‘Preparation and Submission of proposals. ’’ Page limits given there apply. Proposers may wish to consult the GPG (NSF 98-2), for additional information. Please indicate the preliminary proposal number that was assigned to your preliminary proposal.


NSF grants are awarded on a competitive basis. In selecting proposals to be supported in the ATE Program, NSF is assisted by reviewers who are mathematicians, scientists, engineers, technologists, and educators. Reviewers are selected from two and four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, industry, and professional societies.

NSF reviews proposals on the basis of two general criteria recently adopted by the National Science Board: 1) the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and, 2) the broader impacts of the proposed activity. The criteria, as they relate to the ATE Program, are outlined below.